North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 07/17/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 1:00PM

Location: In Rocky Mountain National Park between bridge on Wild Basin entry road and Finch Lake Trailhead

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek 07/17/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WNstippp-P8/W1AJr2_99DI/AAAAAAABgHk/rsq2rwnuyxAHZUx3bBJ6e0MT22b_0EVIwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P7170013.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6579769699332493553?locked=true#6579769704691135538″ caption=”A Good Place to Start” type=”image” alt=”P7170013.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

After a successful day on the Cache la Poudre River on Monday, I sought another Front Range fly fishing adventure for Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Unfortunately, I aggravated my mild case of tennis elbow on Monday, and now it mushroomed into a more severe situation. Would I be able to withstand back to back days of casting, and would the discomfort escalate to higher levels? I decided to take the risk, since I wanted to assess the extent of my injury.

After my review of my fishing reports over the last eighteen years, I logged my green drake encounters on front range streams, and this exercise revealed two instances in July when I successfully cast green drake imitations to resident trout on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek within Rocky Mountain National Park. With this information tucked in my brain, I decided to make the trip to the small mountain stream in the Wild Basin area on Tuesday. Upon hearing of my plan Jane jumped on board, and we both departed from our home in Denver by 8:15AM.

A relatively uneventful drive enabled us to turn left on to the Wild Basin entry road by 9:45, and we slowly followed the winding narrow dirt road for a mile before we were halted by a young lady with a walkie talkie and a reflective vest. She informed us that all the parking at the trailhead was full, so I executed a tight three-point turn in the dirt roadway, and we found a parking space next to some picnic tables along the stream. Jane gathered the necessary gear to hike to Ouzel Falls, and I climbed into my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight in preparation for some stream time.

The air temperature was in the sixties and the stream appeared to be clear and near ideal flows. It had been a while, since I fished the narrow high gradient section of the North Fork in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I was anxious to see if it changed much over the intervening years. My stream notes suggested that historically I landed small brook trout and larger brown trout, but the ratio was roughly 60% brook and 40% browns. Would today’s experience match up to history? I asked myself these questions, as I strode along the dirt road at a brisk pace, until I reached the bridge that was .3 miles back toward the entrance. By now a string of cars was lined up along the narrow dirt road, and the RMNP guide was informing them that parking was full beyond the stopping point.

I walked to the middle of the bridge and gazed upstream and discovered two gentlemen in the creek approximately thirty yards above. One of the young men was wearing waders, and it appeared that a wide band stretched over the creek next to their position. At the time I assumed that they were fishermen, and they were using the band as a support for crossing the swift current. Later I concluded that the band was set up for slack lining over the water. Regardless of their intent, I circled through the woods and around them, until I was positioned a good distance above. They were no longer in view, as I knotted a size 12 olive stimulator to my line, and I began to prospect likely fish holding locations.

In the early going I experienced a mixed bag of success and frustration as exemplified by a 50/50 mix of takes and refusals. I landed five brook trout in the first thirty minutes, and none measured up to my standards for a photograph. The five that I counted were barely over my six-inch threshold. I felt that I was passing over catchable fish, so I snipped off the stimulator and swapped it for a size 12 Chernobyl ant, and below the ant I added a size 18 pheasant tail on a two-foot dropper. The Chernobyl was moderately more effective than the stimulator, and I built the fish count to eight, before I reeled up the flies and reconfigured the droppers. The pheasant tail was not carrying its weight, so I replaced it with a beadhead hares ear and then added a salvation nymph as the point fly. Although the Chernobyl accounted for three fish, it also generated its share of refusals.

The three-fly dry/dropper combination improved the catch rate, and I incremented the fish counter to fourteen. Once again, the Chernobyl was the clear leader in attracting trout, but the salvation chipped in a few fish as well. In fact, the best fish of the day put a sag in my net during this time period. A small patch of slow water formed just upstream of a fallen angled evergreen. It was a marginal spot at best, but I decided to allocate a few casts. I lobbed three casts to the short space above the newly fallen evergreen, but after only a two-foot drift, I raised my rod to extract the flies, before they snagged one of the branches. On the fifth cast I decided to go for it. I cast farther toward the bank and then moved my rod tip to the right, which caused the trailing nymphs to sweep deep under the overhanging evergreen boughs. I was shocked, when I saw a thirteen-inch brown trout emerge from its hiding place, and it nabbed the accelerating salvation nymph, as it moved diagonally along the fallen tree. The fish hooked itself, and then I played it in the narrow stream and managed to prevent the battling brown trout from tangling around the numerous rocks and branches in the area. This scenario represented the high point of the day.

When I reached fourteen, I sensed that the action slowed measurably, so I once again implemented a change in tactics. I snipped the three flies from my line and reverted to a single stimulator. I deviated from the morning session and tied a size 14 gray stimulator to my line. For the next thirty minutes I prospected likely spots with the high floating attractor and increased the count to seventeen. I experienced quite a few refusals, but one nine-inch brown trout and two brook trout mistook the bushy stimulator for a natural food of some kind. As this scenario was unfolding, dark clouds appeared in the western sky and faint thunderclaps heralded an oncoming storm. A few large raindrops created wet imprints on my shirtsleeves, and I knew that the forecast predicted thunderstorms in the 1PM time frame. I stripped in my line and hooked the stimulator in the hook keep and returned via the dirt road to the Santa Fe.

After I removed my fishing gear and waders, I pulled on my raincoat and set out on the bridal trail that paralleled the road in search of Jane. The sky grew darker, and I was very pleased to encounter her after a brief eight-minute hike.

Tuesday was a reasonably successful day, as I landed seventeen fish in 2.5 hours of fishing. I had the stream to myself, and I moved quickly and covered a fair amount of stream mileage in a short time. The fish were small, but two brown trout encouraged me to continue seeking more surprises, and the brook trout made up for their lack of size with brilliant orange bellies. The area was crowded with park visitors, but they did not interfere with my fishing. The constant pinching sensation in my right elbow was an annoyance, but it did not prevent me from notching a fun day of fishing during the summer of 2018.

Fish Landed: 17

Cache la Poudre River – 07/16/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Pingree Park above bridge on CO 14

Cache la Poudre River 07/16/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon.

I did not fly fish over the weekend, but I did some research to determine my next destination. I used the search and find capability of my blog to ascertain the dates, when I encountered green drakes on front range streams. I was rather certain that early to mid-July coincided with the presence of green drakes on northern Colorado streams, and this exercise confirmed my recollection. I met green drakes on the Cache la Poudre River on July 13, 2017 and July 15, 2016. The North Fork of the St. Vrain produced green drake activity on July 28, 2010 and July 23, 2006. Brief emergences enabled some dry fly action with green drakes on the Big Thompson River on July 18, 2013 and July 18, 2002.

Armed with this historical data I made the drive to the Cache la Poudre River west of Ft. Collins with the hope of rendezvousing with green drakes. I arrived at a pullout along CO 14 at 10AM, and after I pulled on my waders and assembled my Fenwick five weight fiberglass, I hiked east along the shoulder of the highway, until I reached the bridge. Here I angled down a steep bank and began fishing back toward the Santa Fe.

Monday was a warm day with highs in Denver in the upper 80’s. This probably translated to highs in the low eighties in the Poudre Canyon by the time I quit at 3PM. The sky was virtually cloudless for most of my time on the water. The flows remained quite strong, and I never entertained the thought of wading across the full width of the river.

I began with an olive-brown size 12 stimulator, and I began prospecting the slow-moving pockets and pools along the left bank. This approach was effective, and I brought eight trout to my net using the single dry fly method. All the landed fish were brown trout, and several extended to the 12-13 inch range. A fish of this size on the Cache la Poudre is worth celebrating.

I was curious whether a dry/dropper technique might produce more and larger fish, so I used my nippers to remove the stimulator and switched to a size 12 Chernobyl ant trailing a salvation nymph. Several trout nipped the Chernboyl but easily escaped my hook set, and then an aggressive feeder assaulted the black foam attractor, and I landed number nine. The catch rate with the dry/dropper lagged that of the olive stimulator, and I was about to revert to the productive fly of the morning, but then I decided to experiment with a green drake. I selected a Harrop hair wing green drake from my box and tested it in a long smooth glide, and after five casts a decent brown surfaced and smashed the green drake imitation to increment the fish count to ten.

It was around this time, that I found myself next to a nice rocky area in the sun, and it was after 12PM, so I paused for lunch. After lunch the Harrop hair wing yielded several refusals, so I decided to switch to a size 14 green drake comparadun with no ribbing. This offering was quite popular, and the fish count swelled to seventeen on  the appeal of the green drake with the upright deer hair wing. The comparadun was more difficult to follow than the hair wing, and it necessitated frequent dunkings in the dry shake canister; however, when properly presented, it was very effective. Most of the green drake munchers were typical brown trout in the nine to eleven-inch range with one outlier that measured twelve inches. By 1:30 I reached a section along the south bank characterized by a long deep shelf pool, and this type of water failed to produce on Monday, so I exited and hiked back down the road to the car.

My tennis elbow was acting up, and I blamed it on the fiberglass rod with a wider grip than I was accustomed to, so I stopped and switched to my Loomis five weight. As I advanced on the south shoreline, I craved an opportunity to sample the nice pockets and pools along the north bank, so I ambled east on CO 14 once again, but this time I crossed the bridge and circled along the opposite bank.

During my entire stay on the river to this point, I observed only one green drake, and I sensed that the fish were not responding to my green drake offering with the zest that they demonstrated earlier. I decided to try a dry/dropper approach once again, and my afternoon lineup included a yellow fat Albert, size 12 beadhead prince nymph, and a salvation nymph. The prince was intended to imitate the nymphal stage of the green drake, and the salvation was geared to suggest a pale morning dun nymph. Whether the fish interpreted them this way is unknown, but the next 1.5 hours produced ten additional fish to raise the fish tally to twenty-seven. Two aggressive feeders pounded the fat Albert, and a brown trout nipped the salvation, while the remainder grabbed the prince nymph. Perhaps the stream residents were accustomed to seeing green drake nymphs and therefore responded to the prince as a close facsimile. Two of the final ten trout in my net were rainbows including a ten incher that crushed the fat Albert in some faster riffles.

By 3PM the air temperature was peaking, and I felt very sluggish after a day of rock climbing and battling through overhanging branches. I reeled up my line and called it quits. I was also conscious of the request to voluntarily not fish during the hottest afternoon hours of the day in order to avoid stressing the trout in elevated water temperatures.

Monday was a fun day. I landed an abundant quantity of trout, and I fulfilled my goal of successfully fishing green drake dry flies. I only noted one natural, but the fish seemed tuned into my green drake comparadun imitation. Competing anglers were scarce, and I explored the north side of the river with some success.

Fish Landed: 27

CDC Blue Winged Olive – 04/22/2018

CDC Blue Winged Olive 04/22/2018 Photo Album

The history of my association with this fly is available in my 03/11/2014 post, and it evolved into a mainstay in my fly box since the inception of this blog. In many instances it is the only blue winged olive imitation required, although I carry the fly in sizes 18 through 24. The broods of baetis that emerge in the fall tend to be more diminutive than their spring cousins, thus necessitating the size 24’s. Normally I utilize size 20 and 22 during spring hatch matching situations.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TIJvXK9iN0U/WrxfK-7gZuI/AAAAAAABaYA/BfsUQNliomoSllsoG2-DeZoI-4VpM_idwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P3280001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6538205400736633185#6538205401331033826″ caption=”Materials to Tie a CDC BWO” type=”image” alt=”P3280001.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

During 2017 I encountered several instances when my trusted CDC BWO’s failed to meet my expectations. Two notable examples were 04/19/2017 on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and 11/01/2017 on the Eagle River. In an attempt to remedy this weakness in my blue winged olive arsenal, I researched and identified the BWO Klinkhammer style as my secret weapon in difficult baetis hatch conditions. The commonality of the frustrating experiences was wind. I theorized that the wind blew the olives off the water, before adults with upright wings became a triggering feature. The Klinkhammer style featured a dangling abdomen on a curved hook with a small wing post and parachute hackle to represent the emerging wing and legs at an early stage.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1lRy9TKymt8/Wrxh2XGSbCI/AAAAAAABaZI/QFNAugsGQboROBHjaxWhT72MLoERkAopwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P3280003.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6538205400736633185#6538208345576336418″ caption=”Nice View of Split Tail” type=”image” alt=”P3280003.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

On 04/05/2018 I faced my first test of blue winged olive hatch matching options. Overcast skies and dim light prompted a steady emergence of baetis on the South Platte River during the afternoon, and my first response was to knot a CDC BWO to my line. I managed to hook and land a couple trout, but the successes required excessive casting, and abundant refusals and lack of interest by visible fish suggested that the CDC version was not the answer. I shifted gears and attached one of my new Klinkhammer BWO’s to my line, and the rest of the afternoon was spectacular. Sixteen energetic South Platte residents were deceived by the new addition to my fly supply.

On 04/16/2018 I arrived on a quality pool on the Eagle River confident that I was armed with the necessary ingredients to fool trout during blue winged olive hatches that coincided with windy conditions. After all, I possessed CDC BWO’s in a range of sizes, and I supplemented these winners with Klinkhammer BWO’s that proved their worth on the South Platte River on 04/05/2018. The weather was very similar to 04/05/2018 with ongoing overcast skies, and wind that gusted up to sixteen miles per hour.

As anticipated small olive bodied mayflies made an appearance at noon, but my line contained a size 20 Craven soft hackle emerger. I knotted this to my leader thirty minutes earlier in an attempt to imitate small gray midges, that held the attention of the fish in the pool. I applied floatant to the body and wing of the soft hackle and decided to continue fishing it as a dry fly trapped in the surface film. I did not observe adults with upright wings and surmised that emergers and cripples were the preferred food source on a very windy day.

It worked! I landed twenty-one trout on 04/16/2018, and fifteen of them succumbed to the greased soft hackle emerger. In addition five slashed at and ate the Klinkhammer BWO. Despite the discovery of new weapons in my quest for blue winged olive hatch matching, I also experienced several days when the CDC BWO earned its place in my fly box.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HQBHPdOiyNM/Wrxh6gdhXOI/AAAAAAABaZI/L6ykwFyxFO42oGiGDFUgNf4VWb59y1slwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P3280004.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6538205400736633185#6538208416809180386″ caption=”A Completed Batch” type=”image” alt=”P3280004.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

With all this background in mind I counted my CDC BWO’s and determined that I needed a handful of new models. I produced four size 22 and four size 20 versions, and I feel confident that I have an adequate array of imitations to dupe greedy fish selectively feeding on some stage of blue winged olives. But then again confidence is a dangerous thing in the fly fishing game.

Homestake Creek – 07/11/2016

Time: 7:30PM – 8:30PM

Location: Across from Hornsilver Campground

After dinner at the campground, I took a short walk to the section of Homestake Creek that is across the highway. The path led me to a very attractive pool that appeared to be the beneficiary of some stream improvement efforts. I stood motionless and observed the water for a bit, and the surface came alive with four or five rise rings. I had an hour or more before darkness, so I walked at a brisk pace back to the campsite and pulled on my wet waders and assembled my Sage four weight and quickly returned.

I began my efforts to attract surface feeding inhabitants of the pool with the same size 16 deer hair caddis that produced on the Eagle River, but the gray fly generated only a couple refusals. During the first thirty minutes I could see some tiny cream colored midges buzzing about, and these may have accounted for the rises. I did not possess a viable imitation, so I stayed with the caddis until 8PM. At this time I moved upstream to a deep run at the head of the pool, and here I began to see pale morning duns. Apparently this mayfly does not strictly adhere to the morning portion of its name.

I switched to a cinnamon size 16 comparadun, and in the remaining thirty minutes I managed to temporarily hook two fish. The first hook up felt a bit larger than what I expected from small Homestake Creek, but I will never have an opportunity to confirm my hunch. At 8:30 the surface activity subsided, and the waning light forced me to give up on Homestake Creek, and I returned to the warmth of my sleeping bag.

Fish Landed: 0

Clear Creek – 05/03/2016

Time: 1:00PM – 4:30PM

Location: Western section of Clear Creek Canyon just beyond Tunnel 6.

Fish Landed: 9

Clear Creek 05/03/2016 Photo Album

I have long stopped relying on Clear Creek as a numbers boosting proposition, and Tuesday was no exception.  After fishing in severe temperatures on Friday and Saturday, the projected high of 65 degrees in Denver made me yearn for a day on the stream in mild weather. In addition I organized the streamer side of my fleece pouch, and I discovered a batch of old mangled flies, that I stripped and reconditioned. Since I experienced a fair degree of success with the go2 caddis with a bright green diamond braid body, I elected to tie some caddis pupa Lafontaine style, but I strayed from the original recipe by substituting the green diamond braid for the body. I was quite anxious to give these new go2 sparkle pupa a test.

Since I was planning a longer trip to the Arkansas River on Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to once again meet the caddis hatch, I desired a relatively close destination for Tuesday. Close proximity yields four options: Bear Creek, Clear Creek, South Boulder Creek and Boulder Creek. Bear Creek was evidently in the early stages of run off with flows posted at 265 cfs. This is quite high for the small stream that flows through Morrison, CO. South Boulder Creek on the other hand was being starved for water with releases from Gross Reservoir trickling at 16 cfs. Boulder Creek was rushing down the canyon at 84 cfs, which is probably reasonable, but elevated from my last visit. Clear Creek was bouncing between 55 and 48 cfs, and these are reasonable levels for the small stream that flows west of Golden, CO. I searched my blog and discovered that I fished Clear Creek at 50 cfs on April 28 in 2015 and enjoyed a reasonably successful outing, so this clinched my choice.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2JAV_3ewGRE/VylwyHiqq9I/AAAAAAAA9ak/LNdn-3-0-bI8ZacsthfVeg6yrTZBenp7gCHM/s144-o/P5030001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6280675152306258081?locked=true#6280675161665088466″ caption=”Clear Creek Fairly Clear” type=”image” alt=”P5030001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I arrived at the pullout just east of Tunnel 6 at 12:30 and decided to eat my lunch before entering the stream. Originally I considered eating on a rock overlooking the creek, but temperatures in the mid-fifties and a breeze persuaded me to reconsider, and I ate in the shelter of the Santa Fe. Just as I finished my yogurt and began to apply sunscreen, another fisherman pulled into the parking lot across from me, and he pulled wading boots and waders out of his trunk. I was deciding whether I could work around this angler, when a Suburban parked at the entrance to the parking area, and an older gentleman, already attired in waders, emerged and headed straight for the creek. Working around one other fisherman was manageable, but two caused me to throw my gear back in the vehicle, and I departed for another location farther west.

I found a nice wide pullout .3 miles west of the tunnel, and I could see another car parked fifty yards upstream, but I concluded that there was enough space for me to fish, and if I encountered another fisherman, I could exit and walk farther west. I quickly rigged my Orvis Access four weight and then climbed down a rough path the the stream. I tied a size 8 Chernobyl ant to my line and added the go2 sparkle pupa on a two foot dropper. In the first half hour I experienced five refusals to the Chernobyl, so I decided to make a change. I downsized the top fly from a Chernobyl to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. This terrestrial was also apparently too large, as two additional refusals frustrated my efforts to land a fish.

Quite a few caddis were present on the streamside boulders and vegetation, so I opted to try a size 14 gray stimulator. It was larger than the naturals, but I hoped that I could avoid going to the less visible size 16 deer hair caddis that probably matched the adults that fluttered about. Finally I hooked and landed a small brown trout on the stimulator, and I celebrated with a smile and congratulated myself. I was disappointed to learn, however, that the stimulator was a one trick pony, and the fish began to ignore this fly as well.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fZ5yh_yH2SE/VylwyH7rBeI/AAAAAAAA9ao/-4ttCadCFtYVWW6hT0_LTEA6qyNmGl_4gCHM/s144-o/P5030002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6280675152306258081?locked=true#6280675161769969122″ caption=”An Early Success” type=”image” alt=”P5030002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Although I tried to avoid it, I now elected to match the hatch, and I knotted an olive brown deer hair caddis to my tippet. This was what the fish desired, and I landed six additional brown trout over the next 1.5 hours. I quickly learned to ignore the gorgeous deep pools, as these did not even produce a look or refusal. All the fish emerged from slow moving water along the bank or runs of moderate depth that did not exceed four feet. If I stayed back a safe distance and dropped the caddis in a smooth pocket next to a rock with adequate slack, I was likely to catch a fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YG9BWWnXUjY/VylwzHdKFFI/AAAAAAAA9a4/B6Exonh63_EHfNfX9D-YCuQT3ljCOcY3QCHM/s144-o/P5030007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6280675152306258081?locked=true#6280675178821850194″ caption=”Bright Spots on This One” type=”image” alt=”P5030007.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 3:30 I was near the bridge where route six crosses to the north side of Clear Creek, and the shadows began to cover the south side of the stream. This made it extremely difficult to follow my small caddis, so I elected to return to the Chernobyl ant albeit a smaller size 10. It was a nice attempt to create visibility, but the trout quickly informed me that they did not approve by rudely refusing the large foam impostor.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-KeeDNCyUBh4/VylwyxMydwI/AAAAAAAA9bI/k2xCCWItrCIds2u-8ohKnHnZgJ3wxusxACHM/s144-o/P5030006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6280675152306258081?locked=true#6280675172847613698″ caption=”Edge Water Like This Produced” type=”image” alt=”P5030006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

As the shadows lengthened, I also began to spot a few mayflies, as they slowly glided up from the surface of the water. They were likely blue winged olives, and surely I would not be able to follow one of my tiny CDC olives in the late afternoon shadows and glare. I retreated to the bridge and crossed and then began casting to the pockets on the north side, as they continued to be bathed in sunlight. Some more olives caught me attention, so I took the time to add a six inch section of monofilament to the bend of the Chernobyl, and then I tied on a size 20 CDC olive. I did not find instant success, but in the fourth or fifth shelf pocket, a ten inch brown sipped the trailing BWO, and I moved my fish count to eight.

The double dry produced a fish, but in the next couple prospecting locales, I observed fish inspecting and rejecting the Chernobyl. I concluded that I needed an indicator fly that was more natural and less an attractor, so I exchanged the Chernobyl for a size 16 olive brown deer hair caddis. The move paid dividends in the last small pocket before re-entering the shadows, when a nice brown slurped the blue winged olive imitation. It was getting late, and I did not relish battling the shade again, so I reversed my direction and returned to the water below the car. I was obsessed with double digits, and I worked my way along the south bank for twenty yards, but I could not generate any interest. At 4:30 I reeled in my line and hooked the BWO to a guide and climbed the bank to the car.

Nine fish in 3.5 hours is a reasonable afternoon, and I enjoyed the challenge of solving the Clear Creek puzzle. The small brown trout in the tumbling stream near Denver are not easy pickings. They taught me that lesson on numerous occasions.

 

Roswell, NM – 03/20/2015

While the kids attended Rock Ridge Elementary School, they were on a year round class schedule, and this gave us the opportunity to take vacations during off seasons. Jane and I often discussed a trip to Big Bend National Park during the February or November break, but for various reasons, we never made it happen.

2015, however, would be different. We used the online reservation system to reserve a campsite from March 21- 24 and committed to make the trip. On March 20 we embarked on our long awaited journey to west Texas. We anxiously anticipated warm temperatures with typical highs in the seventies and lows in the fifties, and of course our trip coincided with a period of unseasonably warm spring weather in Denver, but we looked forward to it nonetheless.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-k6H9MSs7ycc/VRQ7sBiSXkI/AAAAAAAAx0c/3wO9LVOobBE/s144-c-o/IMG_0964.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03212015CarlsbadCaverns#6130590620270616130″ caption=”Aliens Greet Us in Roswell” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0964.JPG” ]

The first day was rather uneventful as we drove south on interstate 25 and exited the highway below Las Vegas, NM. We reserved a room at the Hampton Inn in Roswell for Friday night, and we vaguely knew that Roswell was associated with aliens. While I drove, Jane Googled Roswell on her phone and read me the history. Apparently a rancher discovered some materials north of Roswell that he assumed were remnants of a flying disc. Stories spread until the army made a press release on July 8, 1947 that the materials resulted from a weather balloon that crashed in the area. The story died until UFO enthusiasts resurrected it in the seventies and constructed goverment conspiracy theories that involved a cover up.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-ozouwIn_Awg/VRRMmgwFtsI/AAAAAAAAyHo/E3irxqrifYE/s144-c-o/P3250146.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03242015BigBendDay3#6130609217268463298″ caption=”The Aliens Welcome Us Back to Roswell on the Return Trip” type=”image” alt=”P3250146.JPG” ]

Just as Forks, WA has latched on to the Twilight saga to attract tourists, Roswell attempts to capitalize on the alien connection. As we entered the town from the north nearly every hotel had some variation of a little green alien positioned near the entrance way. This was actually the highlight of Friday and our time in Roswell. We found the Hampton Inn on the north side of town and checked into our room, and then we drove south on the main 285 strip to a restaurant where we enjoyed barbecue. Jane and I slept soundly on Friday evening and never encountered an extraterrestrial being of any sort.

Stimulators – 01/26/2015

Prior to my trip to Rio Manso Lodge in December of 2013, Taylor Edrington of Royal Gorge Angler suggested that I take some large caddis along to Patagonia. I accepted his suggestion and cranked out 15 – 20 stimulators with various body colors. I made bushy attractors in light olive, yellow, tan, gray, black and peacock. I recall only using a stimulator once or twice on the trip with no resulting hook ups, so I returned to the U.S. with a nice supply of size 14 flies available for the 2014 season.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-HPEPIgTga0w/VMHJfkdwqvI/AAAAAAAAwV4/hSyGlVLPsjk/s144-c-o/IMG_0825.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01222015Stimulators#6107384113892731634″ caption=”Zooming In” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0825.JPG” ]

Early in the summer after the run off conditions subsided, I began experimenting with my stimulators and discovered that they were quite productive. The success began on South Boulder Creek and continued on the small streams that I fished in Idaho, Rainey Creek and Bear Creek. I loved their visibility and the way they remained on the surface in fast turbulent pockets and runs. I reached the point where I would not want to be without my stimulators while fly fishing in the west.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-YP6bSucVesc/VMHJiN24B4I/AAAAAAAAwWc/nnERvMxYv6E/s144-c-o/IMG_0829.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01222015Stimulators#6107384159363663746″ caption=”Yellow Stimulator” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0829.JPG” ]

Meanwhile the zipper on my Fishpond front pack broke, and I could not completely close the one side of the inside pocket where I stored my fly boxes, tippets and leader material. I was hesitant to take the front pack out of service during the season as this would have involved transferring all my gadgets to an old-time vest, so I attempted to make do with a partially closed pocket. This proved to be a mistake.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-kWojjv8dyms/VMW_ZEWTrpI/AAAAAAAAwkQ/Ad4d1FugMQQ/s144-c-o/IMG_0838.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01252015RockyMountainArsenal#6108498906982887058″ caption=”Stimulators for 2015″ type=”image” alt=”IMG_0838.JPG” ]

On a September trip to the Frying Pan River I landed a small brown trout on a dry/dropper arrangement, and the frisky fish made numerous spins in its valiant attempts to escape my hook. These maneuvers caused one of the worst tangles I’ve ever experienced in my career of fly fishing. I eventually had to snip off the entire tippet section and begin anew, however, while making all these changes while standing in the middle of the river, I apparently squeezed my fly box out of the inside pocket and into the river.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-HLjYmAtHNTI/VMW_ZvZ6OfI/AAAAAAAAwkU/ZCxTfjdzeYI/s144-c-o/IMG_0839.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01252015RockyMountainArsenal#6108498918540720626″ caption=”Beginning to Fill the Boat Box with Stimulators, Trudes and Muggly Caddis” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0839.JPG” ]

When I realized that it was missing I searched the area frantically hoping that it became lodged on a rock or branch as it floated downstream. Alas, it was nowhere to be found. The fly box that escaped my front pack was the very same one that contained my entire supply of stimulators. Needless to say I was heartbroken over this loss.

Prior to a subsequent late season fishing trip I purchased ten replacement stimulators, and I lost a few of these, so I decided to replenish my supply last week. I now have 25-30 fresh high floating stimulators stashed in my fly bin ready and waiting for the 2015 season.

Breckenridge – 01/23/2015

I have probably skied at Breckenridge 30-50 times in my lifetime, yet I discovered yesterday that much undiscovered terrain remains. I can thank my friend Fred Young for guiding me to new high elevation adventures.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-BARZ9wVqLdI/VMPHaUmU3-I/AAAAAAAAwcc/1qg2h7G0LbY/s144-c-o/P1220001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01242015Breckenridge#6107944774664511458″ caption=”Fred and Jane About to Launch at Peak 6″ type=”image” alt=”P1220001.JPG” ]

Jane and I felt that we were sufficiently recovered from a pair of nasty colds in early January, so we arranged to meet our friends, the Youngs and Gaiges, at Breckenridge. All of us skied together in the morning after rendezvousing at the Peak 7 base, but Douggie Young excused herself as we boarded the T-bar at Peak 7, and we eventually reunited with her at the Vista Haus for lunch.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-XIogRytMWFs/VMPHe_Cq5yI/AAAAAAAAwcs/aBHHZGOHZ0o/s144-c-o/P1230011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01242015Breckenridge#6107944854777161506″ caption=”Whales Tail Ahead” type=”image” alt=”P1230011.JPG” ]

Fred and Douggie rent a house in Dillon, CO, and they join senior groups on set days of the week. During these gatherings, Fred tours Breckenridge and Keystone and learns about all the nooks and crannies bypassed by most skiers. After lunch the girls split from the guys, so Fred led us on a private tour of the upper reaches of Breckenridge. We seemed to bounce back and forth between the above timberline terrain available from the T-bar and the Imperial lift. It was a blast as we skied Whales Tail, Horseshoe Bowl and some chutes south of the Imperial lift that we reached without removing our skies and climbing.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-TJCNP4FhEEU/VMPHdJcXYYI/AAAAAAAAwYA/bV3mQ7qxyfA/s144-c-o/P1220007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01242015Breckenridge#6107944823209550210″ caption=”Horseshoe Bowl from the Precipice” type=”image” alt=”P1220007.JPG” ]

We’ve already made plans to rejoin at Vail next Thursday, January 29. I can’t wait.

Pool Toy – 01/17/2015

I’ve written several posts on the pool toy hopper imitation, and you can read them at Grillos Pool Toy and Pool Toy 02/14/2014. I’ll avoid being redundant by resuming my commentary where I ended on my post from 2014.

I made another four last winter to put my supply at around fifteen, and I carried three or four along with me on my trip to Argentina, but they never got wet. During the spring, summer and fall season I did indeed cast a pool toy as a top fly in a dry/dropper configuration more frequently than in the previous year. This resulted in a few more success stories, however, I still feel that a Letort hopper or parachute hopper would out fish a pool toy if used a comparable amount of time.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-Y4ziftoXQcw/VLNLWu9R3WI/AAAAAAAAwJU/pxiwdW5dSks/s144-c-o/IMG_0795.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01112015PoolToy#6103304773951413602″ caption=”Top View” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0795.JPG” ]

The pool toy does offer great buoyancy and visibility, thus, it spends more time on my line admittedly as a sophisticated indicator. Because of its ability to remain afloat while a size 14 beadhead nymph is suspended two feet below, the pool toy was used fairly frequently. This resulted in the loss of quite a few flies mainly in situations where a fish grabbed the nymph, and in its valiant efforts to escape broke off both flies.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-Hjmny6a-90I/VLNLcPVLpqI/AAAAAAAAwKk/EFKItKgBphg/s144-c-o/IMG_0805.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01112015PoolToy#6103304868540950178″ caption=”Yellow Underside” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0805.JPG” ]

By the end of August my supply of pool toys dwindled to the point that I began opting for a tan Charlie Boy hopper to preserve my few pool toys for September. Guess what happened? I rediscovered the tan Charlie Boy and experienced some hot hopper fishing in September and October on this forgotten fly that was exiled to the end of my fly bin. Days on the Arkansas River and Yampa tailwater stand out as two examples where the tan Charlie Boy yielded numerous good sized fish. In fact, the tan foam bodies became so mangled that I had to replace them.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-8twqDcjNHUk/VLNLXggrcPI/AAAAAAAAwJk/9K47SVfMZB0/s144-c-o/IMG_0797.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/01112015PoolToy#6103304787253227762″ caption=”Zoomed in on Pool Toys” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0797.JPG” ]

The pool toy was effective enough to merit a decent supply for another season, so I tied thirteen over the last couple of weeks including eight tan, two gray and three yellow. I have approximately 15-20 in inventory, and I’m anxious to continue experimenting with the pool toy in 2015.

2014 Season

I never succeeded in documenting my top ten fishing outings in 2013, but after significant time spent reading my 2014 posts, I’m prepared to suggest a new top ten. It is always fun to review my fishing adventures while avoiding the cold snowy weather currently gripping Colorado.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/–VK–KAmlaU/VBZaUp7Wn7I/AAAAAAAAnPg/M_8XxUXPdbI/s144-c-o/P9100005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102014FryingPanRiver#6059129659572264882″ caption=”Nice Photo of Green Drake on My Net” type=”image” alt=”P9100005.JPG” ]

Here are the top ten of 2014 in reverse order:

10. Lake Crescent 08/11/14 – My first trout ever in the state of Washington was a thirteen inch crescenti cutthroat, a species unique to Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. I did not catch many fish, but the unique species and the spectacular setting put this in the top ten.

9. Camp Creek 06/05/14 – I landed eighteen small brown trout from this small spring creek in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. It is always fun to experience success in new water, and this small meadow stream reminded me of many streams in my home state of Pennsylvania.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-Mrz0ZCZMTWQ/U_EvBgRsYjI/AAAAAAAAmZ4/l98AkLz8Dnk/s144-c-o/P8110078.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08112014OlympicNationalParkDay3#6048667477425807922″ caption=”View Along the South Shore of Lake Crescent” type=”image” alt=”P8110078.JPG” ]

8. Eagle River 07/17/14 – Despite a tent catastrophe the night before, I persisted to join Todd Grubin for a great day on the Eagle River. I began with some nice action at the rest area, and then Todd escorted me to fish private Arrowhead water farther upstream. Strong numbers and size put this day in the top ten.

7. North Platte River 03/25/14 – 31 rainbow trout averaging 14-15 inches on 2X tippet. The Grey Reef section of the North Platte continues to be an amazing fishery.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-pRef2lm0-ZM/UzObZwb1R6I/AAAAAAAAjO0/s1mz-y5Ylf4/s144-c-o/P3250083.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03252014NorthPlatteRiver#5995306395760936866″ caption=”Another Shot to Be Certain” type=”image” alt=”P3250083.JPG” ]

6. South Platte River 08/22/14 – A rare day devoted to fishing with my son in a gorgeous remote setting is hard to beat. Landing a bunch of fish makes it even more fun.

5. South Fork of the White River 09/18/14 – This was my best day ever on the South Fork of the White River as I was rewarded for hiking over two miles. The action was slow until late afternoon, but once it heated up, I had a blast.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-EWjucUkEiU8/VB-hZN9TsfI/AAAAAAAAni4/4e4fwA3KrWk/s144-c-o/P9180045.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09182014SFOfWhiteRiver#6061741078079582706″ caption=”Crystal Clear” type=”image” alt=”P9180045.JPG” ]

4. North Fork of the White River 09/16/14 – This was my best day of the year in terms of numbers, and amazingly I could have landed 70 had I not experienced so many long distance releases. This all took place after a four hour drive to the Flattops from Denver; a fabulous half day of fishing.

3. Bear Creek, ID 07/28/14 – New water in a spectacular remote setting yielded 20+ wild cutthroat trout including several in the fifteen inch range. It was just superb!

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-t-357cLURw8/U9hoNB-xEWI/AAAAAAAAmEo/JNetcvDkrfA/s144-c-o/P7270065.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/072914SwanValley#6041693473196806498″ caption=”An Even Nicer Fish Landed in the Late Morning” type=”image” alt=”P7270065.JPG” ]

2. Arkansas River 09/05/14 – How could the tried and true Arkansas River deliver the second best fishing outing of 2014? Simply by delivering thirty-four fish to my net with plenty of them in the 14-16 inch range. A bonus was discovering that the Charlie Boy hopper was productive in the afternoon. It was perhaps my best day ever on the Arkansas River, and that says a lot.

1. Frying Pan River 09/11/14 – Another oft visited river produced my best day of 2014. I landed twenty-nine trout with at least a third in the 14-18 inch range. The Frying Pan River is typically my dry fly refuge, but I accomplished the best day of 2014 with no significant hatch. It was dry/dropper prospecting at its best.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-WOwLn6ac0bw/VBZcmV9mB1I/AAAAAAAAnRg/SI3WbAxVgiQ/s144-c-o/P9100022.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09112014FryingPanRiver#6059132162473854802″ caption=”Beautiful Frying Pan Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P9100022.JPG” ]