Harper Lake – 05/28/2020

Time: 10:00AM – 11:00AM

Location: The west and southwest shoreline.

Harper Lake 05/28/2020 Photo Album

Thus far during 2020 I caught trout in January, February, March and April. I spent most of May recovering from surgery, but I tested my casting arm yesterday at Pine Valley Ranch and determined that I was capable of short stints of fly fishing. Unfortunately I was unable to land a trout at Pine Valley Ranch Park, so the streak of at least one trout per month remained in danger of being broken.

I receive a biweekly CPW fishing and stocking report, and during the run off time of year, I browse the stocked lakes in the northeast for possible destinations. I noticed on the May 8 report that Harper Lake was stocked in late April, and I recognized this body of water to be in Louisville, CO near my son’s home. On my return trip from the cardiac rehab center in Boulder on Wednesday I negotiated a short detour to Harper Lake. As I stood on the southwestern bank, I spotted two rises, and then I was astounded to view two fairly large fish, as they cruised twenty feet from the shoreline. Both fish were almost certainly in excess of fifteen inches, and this glimpse of fish life in Harper Lake elevated my interest in a return visit.

Looking South

My calendar was clear of medical obligations on Thursday morning, so I decided to make the short drive to Louisville with the hope of a return engagement with the large cruisers from Wednesday. I arrived at the parking lot off of McCaslin and snagged one of the three remaining slots. Before climbing into my waders I needed a pit stop, but I learned that the bathroom was locked due to the coronavirus situation. This bit of adversity caused me to jump back in the car, and I retreated to a Conoco station near the Boulder Turnpike in order to gain relief.

North View

By the time I returned to the Harper Lake parking lot and pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight, my watch indicated that it was 10AM. Another angler occupied the area that I scouted the previous day, so I wandered on the gravel path along the western shore, until I circled around a father with two young girls. The surface of the lake was mostly ruffled with tiny waves, and this made spotting surface rises impossible, so I defaulted to a streamer strategy. I knotted an olive and black woolly bugger to my line and then extended some tippet from the hook eye and added a bright green g02 caddis pupa. After a few fruitless casts I added a split shot to achieve a faster sink rate. For the next forty-five minutes I sprayed thirty to forty foot casts from the shoreline and then methodically moved to my left by another three steps before repeating the cycle. I covered forty yards of shoreline, but never felt a bump. Midway through my shoulder and arm exercise I exchanged the go2 pupa for a damsel wiggle nymph. The change made not difference to the inhabitants of the lake.

The Prize of the Day

At 10:45 I exited the lake and decided to follow the path to scout out other areas of Harper Lake. Quite a few anglers occupied the northeast and eastern portions of the lake, and all were fitted with spinning rods, but none demonstrated any evidence of success. I returned along the south bank and found a spot a bit to the east of where I spotted a pair of larger than average fish on Wednesday. I disengaged my flies from the rod guide and made a last ditch effort to notch a trout during May of 2020. I am disappointed to report that fifteen minutes of focused fishing failed to reverse my fortunes, and after one hour of effort I returned to the car with nary a fish or even bite on my scorecard. I have three more days in May to keep my streak alive, so some diligent research appears to be in order.

Fish Landed: 0

3 thoughts on “Harper Lake – 05/28/2020

  1. Jeff Regier

    Don’t feel to bad about Harper Lake. I fish this all the time since it’s in my backyard. I did see a guy catching stocker after stocker on a fly a couple of days after the 10″-12″ trout were introduced into their new home. Of course I was out for a run and did not have my rod handy. Personally, in this lake, I’ve caught most fish spin casting. Most people haul ’em in with worms here, neither of which is my preferred method. I’d much rather see a fish sip a dry on a nice stretch of river. Since you seem to be in the Boulder area for appointments, you might try SBC between South Boulder road and Hwy. 93.
    Good luck with the streak!


    1. wellerfish Post author

      Jeff – Thanks for this comment. Harper Lake was just not that attractive to me. It was a scooped out hole surrounded by houses. There was really no structure to separate barren water from productive water, and the surface was riffled, so I could not spot rises. I was surprised at the number of bait and spin fishermen there. Apparently it was stocked a month ago. I chose it because it was relatively convenient and my son and daughter-in-law live nearby in Louisville. Thanks for the tip on South Boulder Creek. Do you know what the flows are there? They are quite high in South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir, but I suppose water could be diverted before it gets to the area you referenced.

  2. Jeff Regier

    I’d say your evaluation of Harper Lake is spot on. I nice place for the family to drown some worms.
    I fished the stretch of SBC I mentioned just yesterday. There is no stream gauge for flows that I can find other than what Denver Water posts right below the dam. USGS lists a gauge at Eldorado springs, but it appears to be inactive with last reports in the mid 1990’s. I be lying to try give you a cfs, but my experience would say it’s a little high. Not crystal clear but not washed out either. More like the beginning of run-off. While I had no luck, my neighbor landed a few, including a nice 18″ rainbow.
    Hope that helps, Jeff


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