Time: 11:30AM – 6:00PM
Location: Breeze Access
Fish Landed: 2
I researched my fishing logs from 2008 and 2009 to see what sort of success I experienced on the Colorado River around the middle of August. I was encouraged to discover several outings with good BWO hatches and some PMD hatches late in the afternoon or in the evening. I checked with Dan, and he was available to fish on Saturday, so Jane and I planned a weekend camping trip that included a day of fishing on the Colorado for Dan and me. We packed the van with all our essential camping gear on Monday before the movers boxed up all our belongings. We suffered through a stressful week of false starts on closing for our new home, so we welcomed the getaway camping weekend.
Jane and I finally successfully closed on our new house on Friday, so we loaded a few remaining items and went to the supermarket to buy food for the weekend. We departed for the mountains and targeted a pair of campgrounds on Colorado 125 northwest of Granby, Sawmill Gulch and Denver Creek. We stopped in Winter Park at a deli and picked up sandwiches. When we arrived at Sawmill Gulch, we cruised the campground and found no openings, so we moved on north for another three miles to Denver Creek. Here we discovered most of the trees had died from the pine beetles and had been sawed down to prevent injury from blow downs. There was a circle of camp sites on the east side of the highway, and then another on the west side next to Willow Creek. We chose the Willow Creek side and set up the tent and ate our deli sandwiches. Dan arrived at around 8:30 after the sun had set and the temperature dove significantly.
Dan decided to sleep under the stars on the camp pad that wasn’t being used. When we awoke on Saturday morning, it was cold with thick frost covering the picnic table, the stove, and Dan’s sleeping bag. Dan admitted he was quite chilly during the night and didn’t sleep that well.
We made some hot tea and waited for the sun to rise above the hill to the east. Fortunately we chose a site that didn’t contain many trees and the solar energy of the sun warmed things up quickly. After we’d eaten and cleaned up, we took a drive north on CO 125 to the top of Willow Creek Pass to explore for hiking trails that Jane could use while Dan and I fished. We returned to the campground and made lunches and took off for the Colorado River. By the time we drove to the Breeze access and geared up and walked to the river to begin fishing it was around 11:30AM. The sun was out and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. I was concerned that the fishing would be slow, but hung my hopes on the reports of late afternoon hatches.
We initially hiked toward the pool with the strong center current, but when we got close and entered the river, there were two pairs of fishermen ahead of use. We reversed course and hiked back down the north side of the river. Of course the mosquitoes were fearsome, and we stopped to lather up with repellant. We walked down the path on the north bank to a point where we could cut to the nice riffle area at the head of the long pool. I tied on a yellow Letort hopper and a beadhead hares ear. I used a Letort hopper as well, but added a trailing beadhead pheasant tail. Dan worked the left side and I paralleled him from around thirty feet out in the center of the river.
After advancing a few feet, Dan spotted a rise to his hopper and set the hook, but snapped off both flies. Maybe the day wouldn’t be so bad. I worked upstream with no success and eventually switched from the beadhead pheasant tail to a light gray size 16 deer hair caddis. Towards the top of the riffles, a trout sipped the caddis, but I also broke off the fly when I set the hook. We both exhausted the attractive riffle water so decided to wade to the south bank and stash our rods and eat lunch on a large wide rock to avoid the mosquito swarm.
After lunch we crossed back to the north side and hiked down the path to the top of the island. We crossed to the point of the island then hiked down the north side to the bottom. We began working up the right channel facing upstream where Jeff Shafer landed a 20 inch rainbow a year ago. Dan saw two refusals, but I had no luck whatsoever. When we moved to the top of the south braid, we waded to the bottom section of the long pool along the south bank. Here I observed some subtle rises. By this time there were some scattered puffy white clouds in the sky, and when the sky ducked behind them, the wind would kick up. I had Dan try for the trout that had risen first. The rise showed a couple feet from the bank in shallow water no more than a foot or so deep. I tied a parachute black ant on behind Dan’s hopper. Dan placed some nice casts over the spot of the rise, but couldn’t coax a rise. While Dan was casting to this fish, I spotted another subtle rise higher up in the glassy smooth tail of the pool.
I added a parachute ant to my hopper as well, and took my turn on the fish higher up. On the third drift, a decent 13 inch brown darted to the surface and sipped my ant. We moved on and again spotted a few subtle rises. Again Dan took first shot and cast from below. I suggested that Dan check his cast high so the flies would gently flutter down to the surface with less immediate drag. He did this in expert fashion, but still couldn’t draw a response. After ten casts or so, I tried for the same fish from the side, and the small brown darted up and grabbed my ant. I can’t explain it other than the fact that I was casting from the side and the fish didn’t see any line; whereas, the line was in view when Dan cast from directly downstream.
We continued working our way up along the right bank a bit. I spotted a rise in front of me no more than eight feet away. Dan was to my right and below me another five feet or so and he popped a cast above the spot of the rise. I watched as a small brown darted to the surface and gobbled Dan’s hopper. Dan made a soft hook set; perhaps overreacting to snapping off flies at the beginning of the outing, and hooked the fish for a few seconds only to have the fish break free. We moved up along the bank some more, but didn’t spot any more rises. It was now around 5PM and the sky was once again devoid of clouds, and the air remained quite warm. Dan and I retreated to a log at the top of the island and sat down and observed the water for a half hour. By 5:45 nothing had changed and the sky continued to be cloudless, so we decided to return to the campground to prepare dinner. Perhaps there was some late activity before darkness, but we didn’t wait to find out.