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South Fork of the Rio Grande – 06/21/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Chain up area

South Fork of the Rio Grande 06/21/2022 Photo Album

My sampling of the South Fork of the Rio Grande River on Monday after our Revolution Rails experience and a hike on the Lake Fork Trail convinced me to revisit the gorgeous cold and clear flowing stream again on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Other than my brief exposure on Monday, I never fished the South Fork previously, so I was anxious to give it a try. I also considered the main stem of the Rio Grande, but after spending three days drifting the river in 2021, the thought of wade fishing the big river did not appeal to me as much as exploring the more intimate South Fork, although the significant tributary sourced near Wolf Creek Pass was by no means a small mountain creek. At most places the South Fork was twenty to thirty yards wide, and even at somewhat elevated post-runoff flows, I was able to cross at numerous locations to obtain favorable casting positions.

The temperature was in the low sixties as I began, and I felt comfortable during my stay on the creek with just my fishing shirt. There were a few periods of clouds, but bright sunshine ruled the sky most of the time. It was my first time on the South Fork, so I had no experience with water levels to compare against, but I suspect they were seasonally low although high compared to ideal. Nevertheless, I found the conditions to be very conducive to fly fishing.

Nearly Ideal Flows

I began my quest for wild trout with a yellow body pool toy hopper, an iron sally nymph, and a go2 sparkle caddis pupa. My success was almost instantaneous, as three twelve inch brown trout slashed the hopper and four grabbed the caddis pupa. Between 10:30AM and noon I built the fish count to seven, and all but one fish were browns in the twelve inch range. One small rainbow joined the mix.

A Solid Start

While I ate my lunch, I observed a sparse cloud of mayfly spinners above the riffles to my left. As I munched my sandwich, the mating swarm intensified, and then five or six trout began feeding in the deep eddy in front of my position. I decided to finish my sandwich, but I deferred the remainder of my lunch in order to capitalize on the developing spinner fall. I removed the dry/dropper arrangement after lunch and knotted a classic size 10 Chernobyl ant to my line and added a rusty spinner on a twelve inch dropper. The combination generated a few looks and refusals, but then the two flies were completely ignored, while ravenous trout sipped spinners on a semi-regular basis.

Lunch Pool and Eddy

Nice Size

I was averse to missing out on this early season dry fly action, so I reevaluated my lineup, and I replaced the rusty spinner with a light gray size16 comparadun. The body color of this fly seemed to more accurately mimic the naturals drifting about the eddy. I smashed down the wing to flatten it and create the image of a spinner, and I began casting to various parts of the eddy, where rises materialized. It worked. I landed two additional trout along with several temporary hook ups, and then I progressed upstream along the left bank and upped the count to ten. At some point I pulled some of the deer hair fibers from the comparadun, as I removed the fly from a fish’s mouth, and I replaced it with another version with a fuller wing.

Comparadun Fooled This One

Mashed This Comparadun to Imitate Spinner

As this prospecting took place, I began to observe a smorgasbord of aquatic insects that included golden stoneflies, yellow sallies, pale morning duns, and a couple drakes. The spinner fall subsided, and I decided to institute another fly change. I chose an olive hippie stomper as the front fly and extended a tippet section from the bend and attached a size 12 yellow stimulator. These flies remained on my line until 2:45PM and enabled me to boost the fish count to twenty. Two trout chomped the stomper, and the remainder nabbed the high floating, bushy stimulator. I totally enjoyed myself in a gorgeous environment with clear and cold flows and hungry trout.

Typically Productive Water

At 2:45PM the catch rate lagged, and I shifted to yet another approach. I tied a size 8 amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl to my tippet and added an iron sally and a salvation nymph. I covered quite a bit of stream real estate, until I approached some faster deep runs that bordered some slow moving deep slots. On one of the drifts through this run, an energized trout snatched one of the nymphs, but after a streaking run, the fish slid free. I was puzzled by this rapid change of events, and I discovered that all three flies were missing. A closer examination of my line revealed a curly end, and I was forced to acknowledge that a bad knot was responsible.

Distinct Spots and Large Fly

Not wishing to go through the time consuming act of reconfiguring a three fly dry/dropper, I returned to the hippie stomper and yellow stimulator, but I was unable to resurrect the earlier magic. Tuesday was the first day of summer, and I was blessed with a wonderful day of stream fly fishing. I was on a new river for me, and I managed to unlock the code to land twenty fish. All except three were brown trout in the twelve inch range with a couple thirteens in the mix as well. The scenery, the river, and the insects were in perfect condition; and I capitalized.

Fish Landed: 20

Arkansas River – 03/28/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Chafee – Fremont County Line

Arkansas River 03/28/2022 Photo Album

The last of a string of very nice days prompted me to make my second fly fishing excursion of the year. The forecast high temperature in the Salida, CO area was 72 degrees, and this prospect along with flows in the 300 CFS range enticed me to make the nearly three hour drive to the Arkansas River for a day of fly fishing on a much larger body of water than that which I explored on Friday.

I arrived at my familiar pullout by 10:10AM, and this enabled me to make my first cast to the river by 10:30AM. The air temperature at the start of my day was 54 degrees, and I wore my light fleece cardigan, and it remained in place for the five hours I spent on the river, and I was never too warm. With winds in excess of 10 MPH predicted for the afternoon, I rigged my Sage One five weight, and this allowed me to utilize my new fly line for the first time. The line was a gift from Jane at Christmas.

The only other fisherman I saw all day happened to be parked in the same pullout as me; and, of course, he was ready before me and had first dibs on the river. He hiked quite a distance east along U.S. 50, before he dropped out of view in his descent to the river. My favorite location on the Arkansas River was downstream in the same direction, although I prefer crossing to the opposite side, and I contemplated that ploy, but in the end I opted for solitude and began working my way upstream along the south bank that bordered the highway. The south bank probably absorbed more fishing pressure than the north side, but I prefer the structure of the water on the highway side of the river.

Optimistic About This Section

I configured my five weight line with a beadhead yellow-light green Pat’s rubberlegs, and below it I added a mini leech with no bead. These two flies were present with a nymph rig that included a split shot and a New Zealand strike indicator. I began prospecting the water and quickly learned that the slower shelf pools and seams along the faster currents provided the most action.

During the first 1.5 hours, before I broke for lunch at noon, I landed one trout and endured four temporary hook ups. The Pat’s rubberlegs accounted for the single landed brown trout, and the success story was accompanied by four temporary connections. After a decent trial period I exchanged the mini leech for a size 22 zebra midge, and I suspect the long distance releases resulted from the tiny midge fly.

Molting Pat’s Rubber Legs Was Desirable

After lunch I continued with the deep nymphing approach and persisted with it until I quit at 3:30PM. I never saw any insects besides tiny midges and a very rare caddis. I was anticipating some blue winged olive action, but either it was too early in the season or the bright sun combined with a lack of cloud cover prevented a BWO appearance.

Lunch View

I managed to increase the fish count from one to seven, and the additional six included a twelve inch brown trout, and five browns in the nine to eleven inch range. The average size for the day surpassed the length of my North Fork of St. Vrain catches on Friday, but I have to admit that my expectations for size and quantity were a bit higher.

I Suspect a Moth

After a lull in action with the Pat’s rubberlegs and zebra midge I switched to a 20 incher and classic RS2. Five of the six PM fish that I landed chomped the 20 incher, and one grabbed an emerald caddis pupa, after I replaced the RS2. A couple more fish felt the penetration of one of my flies, but they managed to evade my net.

Another Decent Brown Trout

Between 2:30PM and 3:30PM I covered a significant amount of water and failed to land a single fish. In fact, I never experienced a look or refusal or temporary connection. I swapped the emerald caddis pupa for an iron sally during this time frame, but the move proved futile. The wind gusts made casting upstream a formidable challenge, and I finally surrendered at 3:30PM and climbed the bank to the highway, and walked a mile along the shoulder back to the car.

Juicy Shelf Pool

Monday was a fun day under bright sunshine with temperatures eventually touching the upper sixties and possibly nudging seventy. The wind was a nuisance, but I logged quite a bit of fishing time before it became a hassle. I suspect the absence of significant insect activity explained the slightly below average catch rate. I will probably return to the Arkansas River in a few weeks when the blue winged olives make a more sustained appearance.

Fish Landed: 7

CDC Blue Winged Olive – 02/18/2022

CDC Blue Winged Olive 02/18/2022 Photo Album

My post of 02/21/2019 covers much of the basics of this fly. This small baetis imitation continues to be my most productive fly for fooling trout during the spring and fall blue winged olive hatches. The comparadun style allows it to ride low in the water column; and, thus, it imitates adults and emergers. During very windy days; however, it often loses its effectiveness, and for this reason I also stock a supply of Klinkhammer emergers and soft hackle emergers. I theorize that the trout pick off emergers below the surface because the adults get swept away by the wind in rapid fashion.

Trout Food

Last year, however, I formed a new theory on this windy day conundrum. During wind gusts the adults skitter across the surface, and my observation suggests that perhaps the trout look for small insects with a lot of movement. For this reason I may tie up a few fully hackled blue winged olives to create the illusion of tumbling wind-blown food morsels.

15 New Ones

When I counted my supply of size 22 CDC BWO’s, I discovered that I was a bit low, so I churned out fifteen additional copies. These should keep me in adequate supply over the coming season. In addition I produced five new size 24 CDC BWO’s in case some of my lack of success during hatches results from the presence of very small mayflies.

Purple Haze – 02/12/2022

Purple Haze 02/12/2022 Photo Album

Once again during the 2021 season a guide exposed me to the effectiveness of the purple haze. I floated the Rio Grande in the vicinity of Creede, CO for three days in late June, and the purple haze proved to be exceptionally productive on one of those days. To read more about my initial introduction to this interesting dry fly, check out my post of 02/15/2021. This post contains a materials table and some success stories from the summer of 2020.

The Better Side

Aside from my guides’ knotting the purple haze to my line, I actually chose it myself on a few occasions, and it accounted for several fish. I was impressed enough to approach my vise to create five additional models for the upcoming season. The official instructions from the creator of the fly call for using a purple floss style thread for the body; however, I deviated from the recommendation and utilized purple dubbing. I suspect the trout will not care. Will 2022 be the year when the purple haze becomes a mainstay in my dry fly attractor box. Stay tuned.

Cool Looking Fly


Ultra Zug Bug – 12/15/2021

Ultra Zug Bug 12/15/2021 Photo Album

How can such a simply tied fly be so productive? I do not know the answer, but I am certainly pleased that this is the case. I saw this fly in a Scott Sanchez book and began tying it many years ago. It has become another top producer among my nymph and wet fly arsenal. If you check out my 11/10/2020 post, you will encounter links to previous posts that include a materials table and earlier narratives that describe my introduction to this fly and explain its continued effectiveness.

Looking Unruly

Sanchez created the ultra zug bug as a quick replacement for the prince nymph, and he accomplished the easy construction goal. The fly requires only a hook, a bead, some thread, a pheasant body feather for tailing, crystal flash, and peacock dubbing. Initially I used it in lieu of the prince nymph during the spring caddis emergence, but eventually I learned that its effectiveness is not limited to the spring caddis time period. It works year round. For some reason I seemed to abandon it in the early season of 2021, but it proved its worth on several autumn fly fishing outings during this past year.

Seven for Me and Five for a Friend

I counted my remaining supply of ultra zug bugs and determined that my various fly boxes contained 53. I approached my vise and knocked out seven more to bring my total to a nice round sixty. This should provide more than adequate ammunition for fooling wild trout during 2022.

South Platte River – 10/20/2021

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/20/2021 Photo Album

Recent weather reminded this fair weather angler that we are on the downside of the 2021 fly fishing season. However, I typically take advantage of intermittent nice days in October to satisfy my addiction. The high in Denver on Wednesday was forecast to be in the upper sixties, so I decided to make another trip to a Colorado waterway, before the temperatures became too prohibitive.

Instead of focusing on the stream flows, I first surfed through my Weather Underground app, as I looked for locations with relatively mild air temperatures. Along with streamflows and air temperature, a third variable entered the destination choosing equation. Late October coincides with the brown trout spawning ritual, and historically I discovered that eating is not the number one objective, when the browns are preoccupied with procreating. Sure, not all the brown trout are on the same cycle, and some continue to satisfy their appetites, but from a big picture perspective, fewer trout are available to the searching fly fisherman. Rainbow trout, on the other hand, spawn in the spring, so their instincts have them eating as much as possible to fatten up for the lean and cold days of winter. A stream with a decent population of rainbow trout, therefore, became the third variable.

Most of the Front Range streams are primarily brown trout fisheries. My inclination quickly leaned toward the Big Thompson River, South Boulder Creek, and the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. I guestimated that South Boulder Creek holds 25% rainbow trout, while the Big Thompson River and Eleven Mile Canyon contain populations that are 50% of the pink striped fighters. The forecast for Wednesday projected highs in the low sixties for Lake George, CO and highs in the low fifties for Estes Park. Flows on South Boulder Creek were a piddling 7 CFS, so I eliminated that option quickly. I made the South Platte River my destination, but I did not rush out the door, in order to allow the low sun to warm the narrow canyon before my arrival.

Spent Some Time in These Prime Runs

By the time I arrived in the special regulation area of Eleven Mile Canyon and completed my preparation routine the air temperature was in the mid-forties, and the river was mostly covered by shadows. I pulled on my fleece hoodie, North Face down coat, and snugged my New Zealand billed hat with earflaps over my ears. For a fly rod I selected my Sage One five weight with the hope of tangling with some larger trout on October 20.

Looks Like Fish Number Two

I hiked down the road for .1 mile, until I found a nice angled path of moderate slope to negotiate the steep bank. By the time I arrived at a nice open spot along the river, it was 11:45AM, so I paused to devour my standard lunch. After lunch I rigged my line with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, hares ear nymph and sparkle wing RS2. When I stopped to purchase 5X and 4X tippet spools at the Anglers’ Covey in Colorado Springs, I asked the salesman what was working, and he matter-of-factly stated blue winged olives and midges, so this dictated my RS2 choice. For the next 1.5 hours I prospected the nymph combination through deep pockets and runs, and I succeeded in guiding four trout into my net. The first and second were twelve inch brown trout, as number one nipped the RS2 and number two grabbed an emerald caddis pupa. During the early half of this time period, the hares ear failed to produce, so I swapped it for the emerald caddis pupa.

Close Up of the Emerald Caddis Pupa

Emerald Caddis Pupa in Lip

During the latter portion of the after lunch time frame I landed two gorgeous rainbow trout. The first one also grabbed the caddis pupa, as I lifted it from the tail of a deep pocket. Number four was a sixteen inch beast, and it was easily the best fish of the day. Similar to the caddis eater, the large rainbow nabbed the trailing sparkle wing RS2, as I began to lift at the tail of a wide slow moving pool bordered by two merging currents on either side. Needless to say, the shimmering silver and pink slab made my day.

Gratifying Catch

Lowering to Freedom

From 1:30PM until 3:30PM I covered a significant amount of river real estate, but failed to register any additional trout. I hopped from prime pool to prime pool and directed my casts to the faster runs that entered the upper portions of the pools. I experienced two temporary hook ups that felt substantial, but I was unable to convert. Bright bluebird skies allowed brilliant sunshine, and this in turn warmed the atmosphere to create comfortable fishing conditions, but this was great weather for fly fishermen, but not favorable for blue winged olives. I spotted a few small olives in the air and three rises during my time on the river. I hoped for more surface action, but it never materialized, and this left me probing the depths with the strike indicator and split shot arrangement. The worst part of the four hour outing was the never-ending task of plucking aquatic slime from my flies. I inspected the pair of flies on every third cast, and I was rarely surprised by clean hooks.

Rainbow Abode

Four trout in four hours of fishing is surely a slow day; however, I adjusted my expectations downward given the cold temperatures and the absence of significant natural insect activity. Landing the sixteen inch rainbow was a blast, and seeing it sagging in my net made the trip worthwhile. Perhaps another mild overcast day in the future will attract me to Eleven Mile Canyon one more time.

Fish Landed: 4

Pine Creek – 09/08/2021

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Backcountry

Pine Creek 09/08/2021 Photo Album

Wednesday, September 8 was supposed to be the day I returned to South Boulder Creek for my weekly encounter with the green drake hatch. My previous three trips to SBC resulted in excellent results, as I fished mostly parachute green drakes and green drake comparaduns. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, my first action was to fire up the desktop computer, as I nervously scrolled to the South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir chart. The nearly perfect horizontal line at 95 CFS had a slight tail on it, as the flows dropped to 91 CFS. I resumed my preparation for a day of fishing, but I made a mental note to check the flows again, before I departed.

Fast forward to 7:30AM, and I positioned myself in front of the computer once again, and in this case the straight downward tail on the graph plummeted to 60 CFS. Clearly the Denver Water managers were initiating a major adjustment to the flows from Gross Reservoir. I endured these events in the past, and I was reluctant to devote my precious day of fishing to a tailwater in the throes of a major modification, and it was unclear what the bottom point would be. I made a flash decision to change my destination in order to allow the South Boulder Creek situation to stabilize. I checked the flows upon my return to Denver, and the flow reduction bottomed out at 15 CFS! 95 CFS morphed to 15 CFS in one day!

Small, Low Creek

Earlier in the summer Jane and I completed an out an back hike along Pine Creek, and I was intrigued enough by the small high country stream to plan a future fishing visit. With South Boulder Creek’s flows disrupted by the water managers, I decided to give Pine Creek a try. I arrived at the trailhead by 11:15AM and quickly jumped into my wet wading attire and assembled my Orvis Access four weight rod. The air temperature was 68 degrees at the trailhead with nary a cloud in the sky, although a persistent haze from wildfires permeated the atmosphere. I hiked along the trail for 1.3 miles, at which point I cut in a northwestern direction, until I intersected with the small creek.


I began my quest for backcountry trout with a peacock dubbed hippie stomper, and the small attractor remained on my line for the duration of my time on the creek. In the early going it attracted a couple refusals, although attractive trout lies were a scarce commodity. I persisted and eventually landed a pair of nine inch brown trout from a nice run above a jumble of sticks and branches that stretched across the stream. I expected the stream to hold small brook trout, so encountering brown trout was a welcome introduction.

Surprised Early by A Brown Trout

Another lull followed the brown trout successes, so I added an ultra zug bug on a 1.5 foot dropper, and the move improved the catch rate somewhat, as the fish count mounted to eleven by 2:30. For the last hour I swapped the ultra zug bug for a salvation nymph, and the hippie stomper/salvation combination enabled me to increment the count to seventeen, before I quit at 3:30PM. Approximately ten of the landed fish on the day attacked the peacock stomper, and the remainder nabbed either the ultra zug bug or salvation nymph.

A Brook Trout Hot Spot

So Bright

Beast for This Small Creek

During my 3.5 hours of fishing I landed seven brown trout and ten brook trout. From a size perspective the brown trout were the larger fish, and I even netted a thirteen incher that put up quite a fight in the close quarters of the small stream. A pair of ten to eleven inch browns were also welcome surprises from the the high country habitat. Although the brook trout were routinely smaller fish in the six to nine inch range, they made up for their lack of size with vibrant colors. Several sported bright orange bellies that contrasted with luminescent gray-blue upper bodies, that were sprinkled with bright spots.

Big Jaw and Unique Spots

While one might think that these backcountry trout were easy marks, that would be a bad assumption. The low clear water along with a vast array of streamside obstacles made connecting with these small fish an interesting challenge. I scattered decent fish from several prime holes with clumsy approaches, sloppy casting, and snagged branches or sticks. I also experienced quite a few long distance releases, and four or five of these were almost certainly trout that exceeded my six inch minimum to qualify for adding to the fish count.

Another Respectable Brown

Deep Run

Wednesday was a fun day, and I attribute much of my satisfaction to exploring new water and the allure of discovering what species were present. The weather was perfect for wet wading, and the surrounding scenery was spectacular. Will I return to Pine Creek? Perhaps, although I rank several other high country destinations ahead of this one, so I am doubtful another visit is in my future for 2021.

Fish Landed: 17

Steamboat Lake – 06/08/2021

Time: 9:00AM – 10:00AM, 11:00AM – 12:00PM, 8:00PM – 9:00PM

Location: Steamboat Lake State Park

Steamboat Lake 06/08/2021 Photo Album

I was feeling smug after several high fish count days on front range lakes. In these instances I was catching stocked rainbow trout relatively consistently. My day of 06/08/2021 on Steamboat Lake brought me back to reality. Catching trout from Steamboat Lake consistently remains an elusive goal for this veteran fly fisherman.

I presented Jane with an inflatable kayak for Christmas, and she was quite anxious to try it out for the first time. We both love the camping experience at Steamboat Lake State Park, and we were able to find campsite availability for two nights, June 7 and 8, so we reserved campsite number 62 in the Harebell Loop. We normally plant our tent on Bridge Island Loop, but we decided to deviate from our previous practice. As it turned out, we were quite pleased with our choice, as our site offered a spectacular view of Hahn’s Peak, and the north side of our campsite bordered an aspen grove and natural woods.

Originally Tuesday was my day to make the drive to fish the Yampa River; however, we modified that plan, so I could be present to help Jane inflate her kayak, and more importantly be available to pack it up and transport it to the campsite after her maiden voyage. In exchange we agreed that I could fish the Yampa on Wednesday on our return trip to Denver. This made obvious sense, since our return route passed through Steamboat Springs, and that was where I planned to fish.

Poised for Fun

On Tuesday morning after I helped Jane inflate the kayak, assemble her three part paddle and launch from the swim beach; I jumped in the car and made a ten minute drive to Sage Flats. I read on several websites that the best shore fishing could be obtained via a ten minute walk across the dam from the Sage Flats parking lot. When I arrived, two other vehicles were present, and I noticed a gate across the road that seemed to lead to the dam. I prepared to fish with my Sage One five weight to combat the wind in the wide open area lacking in trees or windbreaks of any sort. When I was properly geared up, I ambled to the gate, but barbed wire extended to the lake, and the gate was locked. Clearly the park rangers did not want anyone passing beyond this point, so I reversed my direction and hiked along the Willow Trail for eight minutes and then dropped down to a small inlet and waded into a position on the northeast side of the arm in that area.

Pretty Place

The first twenty yards were rather shallow, and of course my entry was the cue for the wind to kick up. I began fishing a hippie stomper with a salvation nymph dropper, but after fifteen minutes of throwing casts parallel to the shoreline and then watching the surface fly bob in the small waves, I recognized the futility of my endeavor. I decided to move to a section that I passed, where some high banks suggested a steeper decline and deeper water. Three minutes after making my move, I was positioned on the shoreline, and I switched tactics to a sparkle minnow streamer trailing a wiggle damsel. I sprayed casts in this area and several more farther south, but my only result was the loss of the valued sparkle minnow and the damsel nymph. I experimented with various stripping speeds and movements and counted down to different depths, but the wind continued to blast the surface of the water, and the fish, if they were in the area, ignored my best efforts.

Macro View

After an hour of fruitless casting I stripped in my line, bowed my head against the wind and wandered back to the parking lot with my confidence at a low ebb. I returned to the swim beach twenty minutes early and discovered Jane waiting next to her kayak. She reported an enjoyable maiden voyage; however, she could only last an hour before paddling into the wind brought extreme fatigue to her arms and shoulders. I provided a minor amount of help, as we deflated and folded up the kayak, and then we returned to number 62 on the Harebell Loop for lunch.

Second Session Was Here

It was eleven o’clock when we arrived, so I decided to explore the cove and inlet, where a small stream enters Steamboat Lake from the north. I parked at a lot on the closest camping loop and hiked along the Willow Creek Trail, before I cut down a gradual grassy bank to the shoreline. I waded across a small shallow cove, and this positioned me to fire casts across the mouth of the small bay where the creek entered. I worked my way back toward the mouth of the creek with no response to my wooly bugger, and then I made a strategic mistake and began progressing up the stream. Since it was early June, the creek was swollen with higher than normal flows, although it seemed nearly ideal at the time. I suspect that later in the season it shrivels to a trickle; and, thus, is not a viable fishery. I realized this after fifteen minutes of fishing, and it was easier to finish the commitment to reach the Willow Creek Trail rather than turn around and wade across the lake again. I never saw a fish during my entire time on the small creek.

I returned to the campsite and after a short rest convinced Jane to drive to Pearl Lake State Park. I reasoned that perhaps a smaller body of water would be less susceptible to wind, and a more intimate lake might make spotting fish an easier proposition. Another post documents my visit to Pearl Lake.

After dinner I once again persuaded Jane to join me in a final fishing venture on Tuesday, June 8. We drove to Meadow Point, a section of land that juts between two long narrow coves. During previous visits to Steamboat Lake I fished in this area, and it usually came alive with rising fish in the hour before dark. Jane and I sat on a bench and observed for thirty minutes, before I extracted my fishing gear from the car. I spotted no rises during this time, and the wind remained a significant nemesis. Finally at 7:30PM I assembled my Sage One once again, and I ambled down a short path to the shoreline of the finger of water that extended from the main lake. I once again tied on a hippie stomper and trailed a size 18 deer hair caddis, and I began to blind cast. Once again my effort seemed rather futile, but after a few minutes an occasional rise gave me a glimmer of hope.

Cove Next to Meadow Point

For the next hour I fired long casts to the vicinity of sporadic rises, but the trout were once again ignoring my offerings. I tried short strips and stops, but none of my tactics produced results. The sun dropped behind a western peak, and the temperature dropped, and the frequency of rises picked up. I exchanged the caddis dry fly for a size 22 CDC blue winged olive. I caught one of the abundant quantities of midges buzzing about my head, and it possessed an olive body with clear wings, so I reasoned that the tiny BWO could pinch hit.

I now began to drop casts in the vicinity of recent rises, but interest was nonexistent, until finally a bulge appeared behind the hippie stomper. I quickly lifted my rod and felt a momentary sensation of additional weight, but then the fish shed the size 22 fly, and I was left to vent my frustration to the croaking frogs and gobbling sand hill cranes. Four hours of lake fishing, and my reward was a split second hook up. Lake fishing education is an ongoing project.

Fish Landed: 0

Pine Lake – 05/28/2021

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Pine Valley Ranch Park

Pine Lake 05/28/2021 Photo Album

Swollen rivers and streams in Colorado forced me to narrow my choice of fishing destinations to tailwaters and lakes for the foreseeable future. I suspect that the low snowpack in much of the state will enable decent conditions for fishing tailwaters later than normal, as the water managers hold back water in support of subpar run off from the high country. I visited the South Platte River on Wednesday with reasonable results, but another trip to a lake leaped on to my radar.

During 2019 I explored Pine Lake at Pine Valley Ranch Park, and after my surgery in 2020 I made a return trip. In both instances I failed to catch a fish. During 2019 I managed to hook a few fish temporarily, and the 2020 experience was primarily spent casting in the North Fork of the South Platte River.

Jane and I participated in some spirited pickleball on Friday morning, and then I suggested that we make the trek to Pine Valley Ranch Park for some hiking and fly fishing. Well, I proposed to fly fish, and she would hike or read. She readily agreed in light of the gorgeous spring day, and after lunch we made the 1.5 hour drive. Since it was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, we encountered a traffic bottleneck along US 285, but we suffered through the delay and arrived at the lower parking lot of Pine Valley Ranch by 2:00PM.

Open Valley

We quickly geared up for a hike and completed an out and back on the Narrow Gauge Trail. On the return leg we followed North Fork View Trail, as it passed along the shoreline of Pine Lake, and I noted some places for fly casting. Jane and I returned to the car, and I geared up with my Sage four weight, while she grabbed a stool and reading material, and we departed for a short hike to the lake. No sooner had I reached my chosen fly fishing position, than I realized that I left my dry fly box in my wader bib, and my waders remained in the car. I quickly jogged and walked back to the parking lot to retrieve the fly box, while Jane reserved my spot on the shoreline of the small lake.

A Channel

Once I returned, I observed quite a few rising fish, so I extended my leader with 5X tippet, and then I knotted a size 18 olive-brown deer hair caddis to my line. The fly of choice worked almost immediately, and I quickly landed a small rainbow trout. The most challenging aspect of this fly fishing was netting the fish without the advantage of waders, as I was required to hold my position on a very steep bank with loose soil, while I reached out and down with my net. I avoided wet feet, but there were some close calls.

Caddis Eater

I continued casting to sighted fish, but the next eater came free very quickly, as I lifted the rod tip in response to a sip. When I stripped in my line, I noticed the telltale curling leader; a sure sign of a bad knot. I was now minus one size 18 deer hair caddis, but I had four more in my box. I replaced the lost fly with another with a cream body, and this produced a second larger stocked rainbow, but then the new fly surprisingly produced a slump. I was skeptical that the body color of such a small fly would make a difference for small stockers, but fish after fish cruised by the dry fly without even a look.

Another Rainbow Trout

Having my fly ignored was not my idea of fun, so I plucked a size 18 black ant from my fly box and positioned it on the end of my line. As was the case with the cream caddis, the ant was avoided like the plague, and I was forced to consider new options. Fairly regular sipping rises indicated to me that the fish were focused on something very miniscule, so I switched to a size 24 griffiths gnat. Bingo. Over my remaining time on the water I hooked and netted four additional rainbow trout, as they reacted fairly aggressively to the tiny speck of a fly. Several responded to a strip or twitch, and the others sipped a stationary fly. I experimented with both approaches. The real key to success was staying low and executing casts without startling the fish. The water was quite low and clear, and even though they were stocked fish, they spooked easily to excessive movement or forceful splash downs.

Great Blue Heron

I was quite pleased to land six trout in two hours of fishing late in the afternoon on May 28. This was accomplished in spite of skittish fish. bursts of wind, and bothersome lake-side willows. Of course, they were all stocked fish, but I paid for my license, and anything is fair game during the snowmelt of 2021.

Fish Landed: 6

South Platte River – 03/03/2021

Time: 2:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Within Chatfield State Park above Chatfield Reservoir

South Platte River 03/03/2021 Photo Album

Lots of Wide Shallows

By the time I ate my lunch and drove the short distance from Bear Creek to Chatfield my watch registered 2PM. I gathered my gear and cut to the river, and as I suspected, the stream was devoid of ice shelves or snow. The clarity was crystal clear, and I carefully walked upstream with the goal of sight fishing. The South Platte River in this area consists of many shallow stretches over a gravel bottom, so I skipped these sections and focused on deep pools and runs.

Looks Very Fishy

I covered a mile of the South Platte River in 1.5 hours, and sadly I was unable to land a fish. In fact, I was unable to sight a fish, and that placed a significant hole in my sight fishing strategy. The temperature peaked in the low sixties, and I enjoyed a pleasant two mile hike in my waders. I landed my one fish on Bear Creek to kick off 2021, so I was not overly upset with my lack of success on the South Platte.

Fish Landed: 0