Time: 10:30AM – 5:00PM
Location: Lower boundary of public water on upper river
Fish Landed: 15
After weathering the Thursday rain and discovering the missing rod and flies, I decided to drive to Basalt to call Jane and possibly stop at Taylor Creek Fly Shop and purchase some green drakes. By the time I reached Basalt however the fly shop was closed, so I called Jane and asked her to bring the green fly box and Sage rod.
I drove back east to the Ruedi Reservoir Campground and snagged site no. 10. By the time I put up the tent it was dark and I prepared dinner by the light of my propane lantern. I awoke on Friday morning to the sound of rain once again pounding down on the tent, but it stopped by around 8AM, and I noticed some blue patches to the west.
I took my time getting ready to fish as it remained quite overcast and chilly so I arrived at the pullout and began fishing around 10:30AM. As usual there were quite a few fishermen occupying the prime spots already. I pulled on my waders and wore my raincoat in case of rain and for added warmth. I parked in the first pullout above the long private water and hiked down the road to the spot where several large fallen trees span most of the river at the bottom of a long run. Another fisherman had crossed and was fishing the obscure left channel facing downstream.
I rigged up with a strike indicator, split shot, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead pheasant tail and began fishing the tail of the long run. I landed a small brown on the pheasant tail and then continued working upstream next to the road. While I was doing this, another fisherman arrived and positioned himself between me and the bottom of the small narrow island just downstream from the car. I picked up one more small brown on the nymphs as they swung from the far side of the center current.
At 11:30 I decided to return to the car and eat lunch in case hatching began earlier with the somewhat nicer weather and also because my upstream progression was blocked by a couple fishermen. As I walked along the road I looked down and spotted a nice brown trout in a small pool near the bank. Another fisherman had waded out to the middle of the river 50 feet beyond the spot holding the fish, so I quietly slid down the bank and made a few casts to the targeted trout, but received no response. I gave up and headed back to the car and prepared my lunch.
After lunch I decided to wade across the bottom of the island above where the car was parked and then to fish the south channel up to the nice pool with the huge cube rock at the head. I didn’t want to stray too far from the car as I expected the rest of the family to arrive at some point with my newly tied green drakes. Hopefully they would arrive before the green drakes commenced their emergence. I used my wading stick to print Dave Upstream in the sand and gravel behind the Santa Fe and set off as planned to cross below the island.
The water below the pool was mostly fast with a few obscure small pockets. I still had my nymphs on and the strike indicator had slid down so it was only a couple feet above the top fly. I dropped casts in every bit of slack water as I moved up along the south side of the island and caught four trout in the 9-12 inch range and in addition had a couple long distance releases. One of the fish fell for the BHHE and the others preferred the BHPT. By the time I reached the sweet pool at the top of the channel, two other fishermen had moved in so I crossed the island through the willows to the top of the north channel. I thoroughly covered the pockets at the top of the left braid and then dropped back to the top of the right channel above the pool and worked some more deep slots and pockets with the nymphs. These large deep pockets at the top of the island are some of my favorite places on the river, but I couldn’t interest any fish in the nymph offerings.
I decided to move back down to the bottom of the north braid and fish back up. This water is generally tough with very skittish fish and that proved to be the case on Friday. The water was slower and shallower so I clipped off the nymphs and tied on a hopper and beadhead RS2 initially. Several small fish refused the hopper, so I decided to remove the RS2 and try a gray deer hair caddis. This combination didn’t produce and more fish began to rise sporadically. Toward the top of the long pool I spotted quite a few rising fish including one that appeared to be of decent size. I also spotted a green drake or two tumbling off the surface. Dang, the green drakes were emerging before my new flies arrived. I had four green drakes in my front pack.
One was a comparadun using gray olive sparkle yarn as a body, but tied on a regular size 12 hook. A second comparadun had an olive body with maroon ribbing, and this one also seemed to be undersized. The other two were parachute style green drakes with white split wings that I purchased at the Conejos River. I tried the sparkle yarn comparadun first and landed a small brown in the faster current at the head of the pool. However the nicer brown across and down inspected but would not take this fly. I tried the olive/maroon rib fly and received the same disrespect. The purchased parachute drakes didn’t even draw a look.
In frustration I gave up on the selective brown and climbed back to the road and headed back to the car. I added a fleece under my raincoat at lunchtime, and I was still comfortable in these multiple layers. I circled back down below the car and crossed out the upstream scrawl in the gravel and drew an arrow pointing downstream. I returned to the nice brown that was visible from the road that refused my offerings earlier. As I stood and watched several fish rose near the brown and then the brown zipped from the bottom to the top and inhaled an emerging green drake. At least I knew what this guy was eating.
I tied the sparkle yarn undersized comparadun back on my line and pushed the deer hair wing back as hard as I could to make it nearly upright and fanned out the hair. Much to my surprise on the fourth or fifth drift the brown rose and took in my fly. I played and landed number eight and took a photo before releasing it back into its lair. Next I decided to walk to the bottom of the narrow island at the top of the long run and probe the small pockets on either side. I had just descended the bank and was preparing to fish when I spotted a black Nissan Rogue passing on the road. That was Dan’s car so I scrambled up the bank and met the rest of the family. Apparently Jane was a bit miffed as I appeared to be more excited to get my rod and fly box than to see them.
Dan decided to stay and fish while Jane and Amy took his keys and returned to Basalt and then drove south to Aspen. I quickly extracted four or five of the new comparaduns and hooked them in my front pack patch while Dan grabbed his fishing gear and prepared to fish. I returned to the bottom of the island and with the first cast of the newly minted drake landed a fish. The next fifteen minutes were magical as I landed another three browns before Dan descended to join me. I tied one of the new green drakes on his line. We were both now just below the pool where I’d caught the nice brown earlier and there were quite a few fish rising above and between us. I also noticed an increased number of PMD’s hovering above the riffles.
In a short amount of time Dan shot a cast upstream and hooked and landed a nice fish on the green drake. Perhaps the fly box had arrived in the nick of time. But as I cast to risers I no longer received the confident slurp that I’d experienced fifteen minutes prior and neither did Dan. I switched to a gray comparadun (money fly) and landed a 13 inch brown at the lip of the pool between Dan and me. Dan was working up along the bank and not getting any action on the green drake so I eventually converted him to the money fly as well.
When we’d fished out the decent water in this area, I suggested we go up the road to the top of the island and see if fish were rising there. Sure enough we spotted several risers close to the bank at the top of the left channel, and I gave Dan the water and encouraged him. Eventually he landed a nice rainbow that rose in the seam below a large rock above the island.
It was now getting late in the day, probably 4PM or later and the shadows were covering the south half of the river so I suggested we walk up the road and check out the big pool at MM12. Two fishermen were in the long wide pool at the big pullout and bend, but there was a bunch of wide open water in the cascading riffles above the bend pool. Dan began casting to the riffles and I went downstream a short distance to the long eddy behind the rectangular rock that protrudes into the river. I stayed low and crept out on the rock and spotted at least three nice fish facing downstream into the eddy as the current reversed and came back along the bank to the rock.
One of the fish was rising deliberately so I carefully fluttered the comparadun into the eddy. On the second cast as it drifted back toward me and the rock, a beautiful brown rose calmly and sipped it in. I played it quickly and landed and photographed probably the largest brown I caught in 2011. After releasing the big guy, I returned to Dan and watched him cast and receive a few refusals. At around 4:30 I suggested that we return to the rock and see if the fish had returned to their feeding stations.
We both crawled out on the rock and picked out at least three nice fish in feeding positions. I gave Dan the position farthest out on the rock to get a better angle. Dan sight fished to the fish and over the next half hour landed two nice fish and hooked and lost a third. It was very exciting to watch Dan place his casts and then see the fish rise and take his offerings. Dan ended up with five trout landed, several quite nice, in two hours of fishing.