Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: First road crossing to outlet pipe
Fish Landed: 38
After an inspiring day on the North Fork of the St. Vrain on Saturday, June 29, I was itching to return and Wednesday July third felt like the right day. I departed from my house by 8AM and made the drive to the gate just west of Lyons, CO. By the time I put on my waders and rigged my rod and hiked up the dirt road it was around 10AM. Would I be able to repeat my success from five days ago?
It was a bright warm day and not as ideal for fishing as the previous Saturday. Even though the DWS site indicated flows dropped marginally from 93 to 91 out of Buttonrock Dam, it was obvious that the stream level was down as more streamside boulders were exposed and there were more slack water pockets that could be fished. I decided to begin fishing at the first road crossing of the North Fork and ended up fishing to just beyond my beginning point on Saturday at the lower outflow pipe from the lake.
I began with a Chernobyl ant and a salvation nymph as the Chernobyl served me well on my previous visit, and I was curious to see if the salvation nymph would produce as a general attractor nymph. The salvation did yield a couple small browns, but I was off to a slow start near the road probably due to more pressure and the close proximity to easy access. As I moved upstream away from the worn path from the road; however, small browns began hammering the Chernobyl ant. After a half hour, the salvation nymph wasn’t producing so I switched to a beadhead hares ear nymph. By 11:40 I had landed 16 brown trout with maybe two on the hares ear, two on the salvation nymph, and the remainder on the Chernobyl ant. At this point I decided to stop for lunch on a nice large rock overlooking the stream.
After lunch the catch rate held strong, but once I reached around 23 landed, I began seeing a lot of refusals to the Chernobyl so I tested a light gray caddis and then a dark olive caddis, but these didn’t seem to interest the fish. Next I switched to a yellow Letort hopper and a beadhead pheasant tail, as I was hoping the yellow Letort hopper might imitate golden stoneflies and that the pheasant tail would pass for the nymph stage of PMD’s. This combination did in fact produce some results as I landed roughly 10 additional fish with a couple rising to the hopper, but all the others snatching the pheasant tail as it drifted along below the surface.
Eventually I removed the hopper and returned to the Chernobyl ant and continued catching fish on the nymph; however, at some point I snapped off the pheasant tail and with only one remaining in my frontpack, I returned to the salvation nymph. This produced rather well, and I landed the remaining fish on an even split between the Chernobyl and salvation nymph.
Wednesday ended up being a fun day in beautiful early summer conditions, and I actually landed more fish than Saturday; however, the average size of the fish was inferior to my previous visit and it seemed like there were more refusals. On Saturday in the upper water the fish were smashing the Chernobyl with reckless abandon, and I never was tempted to switch flies. This was not the case on Wednesday, but still it was very enjoyable and impressed me with the density of fish on the North Fork of the St. Vrain below Buttonrock Dam.