North Fork of the White River – 07/04/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Trappers Lake and Himes Peak Campground

North Fork of the White River 07/04/2018 Photo Album

After spending Tuesday on a spectacular hike to Skinny Fish Lake with my lovely wife, Jane, Wednesday was my allotted day to revel in some serious fishing in the Flattops region of Colorado. I selected the segment of the North Fork of the White River between Himes Peak Campground and Trappers Lake as my destination and arrived so that I was in the stream casting by 10:00AM. Jane dropped me off along the road, so she could utilize the Santa Fe to access some nearby hiking trails.

Prime Habitat

I began fishing with a yellow fat Albert, iron sally and salvation nymph, and I landed seven trout between 10AM and noon, when I took a break for lunch. Among the seven trout were three gorgeous brook trout in the 10-12 inch range with bright orange bellies. The remainder were rainbows, and several of the pink striped variety measured out in the 12-13 inch range. Size was secondary, as these fish dazzled the observer with vivid colors and artistic spot patterns.

Monster for a Brook Trout in a Stream

After lunch I continued with the dry/dropper approach, but I exchanged the iron sally for a hares ear nymph. During the two morning hours all the landed fish nabbed the salvation except for one deviant, who snatched the iron sally. The dry/dropper method increased the fish tally to eleven after lunch with the hares ear and the salvation producing two fish each. Near the end of this period the salvation and leader broke off in my net, so I secured it to my fleece wallet and continued for a bit with the single hares ear dropper.

I arrived at a quality deep pool after thirty minutes, and I could see a pair of fish flash to the fat Albert. As I studied the attractive spot, I sighted at least four decent trout, and they were ignoring my nymphs. I decided to made the significant move to a single dry, and I began with a yellow size 14 stimulator. Two fish refused the fuzzy light yellow attractor, so I cycled through a series of changes including a size 14 light olive stimulator and a light gray size 16 caddis. The caddis proved to be temporarily effective, as I picked up three pool dwellers.

Likely Trout Lair

I persisted with the caddis for another fifteen minutes or so with moderate success, but I also spotted trout that totally ignored the small adult. From time to time small yellow sallies fluttered over the stream and although less prevalent than the caddis, I speculated that perhaps the fish favored the less active stoneflies. I switched to a size 16 yellow sally adult, and this fly was a winner. I moved the fish counter up by ten and reached twenty-five on the strength of its magnetism.

Most of the fish landed on the dry flies were brook trout in the 8-10 inch range. I was pleased with the action and success, but I yearned for additional slightly larger and brightly colored rainbows and cutbows. I also sought a fly that was more visible, so I resurrected a lime green trude size 14. The lime green attractor with a swept back wing produced well for me in previous visits to the North Fork. During July 2018 it again proved its worth, but after four fish in the net, it became waterlogged, and I again desired a fly that floated high and dry.

Rainbow Trout Joins the Mix

I returned to the yellow stimulator, and it attracted a couple small brook trout from marginal lies along the bank. Where were all the rainbows? I pondered this question and recalled that my most robust rainbows arrived in my net via the dry/dropper nymph approach. Suddenly I remembered the hippy stompers that I tied over the winter, so I knotted one to my line and added a single size 18 beadhead pheasant tail nymph on a two foot dropper.

The tactic proved to be a master stroke, and the trout demonstrated their overwhelming approval, as they hammered the pheasant tail cast after cast. If I found a nice deep pocket or hole, and executed nice drag free drifts, I could expect a favorable reaction on nearly every cast. The fish count ballooned to thirty-eight, and during this exciting period spunky 10-12 inch rainbows outnumbered the brook trout.

Astounding Colors

The Fourth of July was a blast in spite of banned fireworks! By 3:45PM I realized that I would not be able to cover the remaining fifty yards of stream, so I scrambled over dead trees and jagged rocks and climbed a steep hillside in order to meet Jane at the prearranged time and place. What a fun day on the North Fork of the White River! The fish were plentiful, but more impressive was the exceptional colors of the wild fish.

Fish Landed: 38

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