Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM
Location: Between RMNP and the Buttonrock Preserve
On Sunday, September 30 my son, Dan, agreed to join me for a day of fishing. Dan’s busy life affords him only rare opportunities for fly fishing outings, so I felt very fortunate. After reviewing the flows of the front range streams, I proposed two possible destinations; the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek and the Big Thompson River. Dan opted for the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, and I picked him up at his home in Louisville, CO at 8AM.
We drove to the trailhead and began hiking at 9:30. After we pulled on our waders and assembled our rods, we worked our way downstream and began fishing by 11:00. When we departed from the parking lot, the dashboard thermometer registered forty degrees, and dense fog blocked the warming rays of the sun. I suspect that the temperature never rallied above fifty-five degrees during our day, and the narrow canyon was quite chilly particularly in the shade. I wore a fleece and raincoat layer for most of my stay on the creek. Eventually the sun burned through the fog and clouds, but the additional sunlight failed to neutralize the chilling impact of the wind.
Dan began with a Chernobyl ant and ultra zug bug, and I started with a peacock hippy stomper and a hares ear nymph. In a brief amount of time Dan landed a gorgeous cutbow that measured thirteen inches, and our optimism skyrocketed.
We alternated pools, until we arrived at the spot, where we stashed our packs, and we paused along the creek to eat our lunches on a large flat rectangular rock. It was perfect for our purposes. Just before lunch I added an ultra zug bug below the hares ear, and the glistening peacock concoction enabled me to land an eleven inch brown trout in the next pool above the one, where Dan netted his cutbow. At the head of a very long smooth pool just below the intersection with the trail, that we followed to the creek, I landed two more ten inch browns that grabbed the ultra zug bug. These fish attacked the nymphs, shortly after they penetrated the surface of the creek.
After lunch we continued upstream, from where the trail met the creek. The area was breathtaking, as the stream cascaded over and around an abundant quantity of huge boulders. Maneuvering around the rocks and fallen logs required persistence and strength. We pool-hopped upstream, since the creek consisted of a series of spectacular plunge pools connected by short segments of fast white water chutes.
During the early afternoon I removed the hares ear, as it never produced a fish, and I replaced it with a salvation nymph. I reconfigured my lineup by attaching the ultra zug bug as the top fly, and I positioned the salvation on the bottom. This three fly lineup moved the fish counter from three to seven, at which point I set the hook in response to a barely perceptible pause in the top fly. The line encountered no resistance, and my flies hurtled into a branch high above the creek. I quickly determined that there was no way to recover the flies, so I applied strong direct pressure, and they quickly snapped off above the hippy stomper near the end of the tapered leader.
The tree branch forced me to rebuild my leader, and I used the reset as an opportunity to experiment with a solo Jake’s gulp beetle. On the first cast of the beetle a beautiful cutbow moved at least a foot to sip the terrestrial, and I landed one of the two best fish of the day. The scene was ultra visual, and I can still picture it in my mind.
Over the remainder of the afternoon we moved upstream and alternated pools, and the beetle yielded four additional catches. Small deep slow moving pockets next to the bank provided the most success, as brown trout used the cover of the rocks and then ambushed any available source of food. My beetle was fortunately regarded as a sumptuous meal
At 3:30 we reached a place that required more rock climbing effort than we were ready to provide, so we decided to make it our turnaround point. The unending uphill return hike required a bit more than an hour to conquer, and in spite of our weariness we were both euphoric over finding new water and enjoying a decent level of success. I would love to return to the section of the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek that provided success to Dan and me on September 30.
Fish Landed: 12