South Boulder Creek – 10/17/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 5:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 10/17/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

How many superlatives can I heap on South Boulder Creek? Quite a few apparently. Tuesday developed into another perfect fall day in the Colorado Rockies, and I took advantage of the mild autumn weather with another fishing trip to South Boulder Creek. In retrospect it was a no-brainer, but when I scanned the streamflows and noted that the tailwater below Gross Reservoir was running at 10.8 CFS, I had second thoughts. I fished the small stream northwest of Golden on September 19 at 15 CFS and again on September 21 at 13 CFS with positive results, but for some reason 10.8 CFS struck me as chancy. I finally decided to give it a try. In a worst case it would be an enjoyable hike on a pleasant fall day, and that was not a bad outcome.

I arrived at the Kayak parking lot at 10AM on Tuesday morning, and I joined two vehicles that preceded me. While I pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight another fisherman arrived and parked next to the trailhead. The occupants of one car were absent, and I concluded they were already on the stream. The gentlemen next to me were in the process of getting ready, and they descended the path five minutes ahead of me. I began my hike at 10:15, and I encountered a man and woman in the first section, after I reached the stream, and they completed my accounting for all the occupants of the cars in the Kayak lot.

I hiked for a decent distance, and by the time I tied a Jake’s gulp beetle to my line and made my first cast, it was close to 11AM. In a brief amount of time I landed three small brown trout on the beetle, but the number of refusals exceeded takes, and as I approached a gorgeous smooth pool, I paused to ponder my options. The wide smooth area was mostly in sunlight, and a second slow moving section was visible just upstream. I concluded that this stream sequence was perfect for an ant, and visibility would not be an issue, so I removed the beetle and attached a size 18 black parachute ant. It was a fortunate choice.

Before I paused for lunch, I landed five additional trout, and their size exceeded the three small brown trout that slurped the beetle earlier. These trout surged to the surface and sipped the ant confidently despite the challenging slow clear conditions. I adopted the appropriate amount of caution and launched long casts to the pool, and I checked the rod tip high, thus enabling the ant to flutter down to the light current for a soft landing. The setting, the unseasonable warmth, and the unexpected success elevated my state of mind to euphoria, as I sat on an unblemished sand beach and munched my sandwich, carrots and yogurt.

After my last sip of water I returned to the tumbling creek next to me. I continued with the ant for a bit, but then the character of the stream shifted to shorter pockets and deep runs. The ant was difficult to follow, and I decided to give Jake’s gulp beetle a second chance. The foam beetle was a mainstay in my arsenal over September and October, and I was reluctant to abandon it. With the size 12 beetle on my 5X tippet I shifted into prospecting mode, and I plopped the beetle in all the likely locales, and I was rewarded with five additional trout. My depth of experience with prospecting pocket water, however, told me that the beetle was not the best option on October 17. In addition to frequent refusals, I endured quite a few split second hook ups, and this suggested that the trout were very tentative about the fake terrestrial.

The parachute ant on the other hand generated bold strikes, and many takes yielded large bulges, as the trout lunged at an apparently preferred food source. It was early afternoon, and the sun was at its peak thus reducing the shadows to the extreme left portion of the stream. I concluded that I could track the size 18 ant in the sunlight, and I once again tied the black parachute ant with an orange poly wing post to my line. Between one o’clock and three o’clock my line featured several ants, and the fish count surged to thirty-five. I used the plural of ant because the hackle on the first one unraveled due to frequent attacks, and the second one with a bright green wing post was hard to follow, so I replaced it with a pink winged version. The latter remained intact although the rear hump began to loosen and slide down around the bend of the hook. Needless to say the two hours between 1PM and 3PM were extremely enjoyable with non-stop intense action throughout.

Throughout my time on South Boulder Creek I observed an occasional little black stonefly, as they fluttered over the river and dipped sporadically to the surface. Several years ago in late October, I encountered a denser hatch of little black stoneflies, and this prompted me to tie a small supply of size 18 imitations. They displayed an olive-brown body, a small clump of sculpin wool for a wing, and a couple wraps of dark dun hackle for legs. I decided to give these a test given the presence of small stoneflies in the environment. The choice was a winner, as an eleven inch brown trout and a twelve inch rainbow smacked the little stonefly to boost the fish count to thirty-seven. I was quite pleased to identify a natural insect and then successfully offer one of my own creations to fool wild trout.

The shadows were lengthening as the sun began to sink behind the ridge to the south, and the small earth toned stonefly was very difficult to track in the dim light. I approached a nice deep pool, and suddenly a flurry of larger mayflies made an appearance. Flurry is probably a stretch, as I spotted only two or three, but my observation coincided with a couple rises. I was certain that the stream residents had a residual appetite for size sixteen pale morning duns, so I plucked a size 16 cinnamon comparadun from my fly box and knotted it to my line. Bingo! A size 10 brown trout attacked the slender mayfly imitation from a shelf pool below a large exposed boulder, and then I backhanded a cast into a narrow but deep gap between two large rectangular shaped rocks. My cast was more of an effort to tuck the fly in a holding position while I moved, but before I could plant my wading staff, an aggressive brown trout slashed the comparadun. What a surprise and thrill! The deeply colored brown measured in excess of thirteen inches and represented the largest brown of the day. I pinched myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.

I was perched at thirty-nine trout, and for some ridiculous reason, I felt compelled to make it an even forty. I moved through a couple nice pools with no action, and I began to doubt the effectiveness of the comparadun. The air temperature dropped a bit, and the shadows lengthened, and a size 16 natural caddis perched on my shirt sleeve. I pinched it with my thumb and fingers and tilted it to look at the underside. My inspection revealed a dark gray and olive body, so I responded to this windfall knowledge by knotting a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis to my line. Voila!

An upstream flutter cast in the next pool duped a nine inch brown trout, and a forty fish day was in the books. It was four o’clock as I exhaled and allowed the small brown trout to slip into the pool, so I waded to the bank and climbed the jumble of large boulders to the quasi-path above the creek. I vowed to hike directly to the car, however, my best intentions were derailed, when I passed exceptionally attractive pools on my return journey. By the time I reached the pedestrian bridge, the fish count crept to forty-six, and each of the bonus trout over forty succumbed to the olive-brown deer hair caddis.

What else can I say? A forty plus fish day in the peak of the season is grounds for rejoicing, but to accomplish the feat in the middle of October when insect activity is diminished and trout metabolism is reduced due to colder temperatures or spawning desires, is cause for celebration. Lacking a companion to high five, I sipped a Red Bull and crunched a couple of servings of Utz’s Sourdough Specials on my return drive. Needless to say, I am already plotting a return to South Boulder Creek before the weather returns to normal for October. Concerns about 10.8 CFS were greatly exaggerated.

Fish Landed: 46

Clear Creek – 10/16/2017

Time: 1:30PM – 3:30PM

Location: Near Tunnel 5.

Clear Creek 10/16/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I could not resist the temptation to fish again on Monday October 16, since the weather prognosticators projected high temperatures in the seventies. Perfect autumn days do not appear often in October, so Jane and I resolved to take advantage. We ate lunch at home and then packed our gear in the car and departed for Clear Creek Canyon. A forty-five minute drive delivered us to the parking lot just west of Tunnel No. 5, and this became my destination for Monday. I gathered my gear and assembled my Orvis Access four weight, while Jane added some layers and prepared to hike the Peak to Plains Trail. The temperature at our home in Stapleton was 75 degrees when we departed, and the dashboard display registered 64 at the parking lot. A huge cloud hovered above us, and I swapped my short sleeve T-shirt for my Columbia long sleeve undershirt in response to the drop in temperature and lack of sunshine. I also added a fleece layer for added comfort.

Clear Creek was flowing at 60 CFS with exceptional clarity, and my optimism rose, as Jane and I hiked along the trail downstream from the parking lot. We followed the oxbow that circles around the tunnel, until we were opposite US 6 below a very steep rocky embankment. At this point I said goodbye to Jane and scrambled down a rocky path of moderate difficulty to the creek. I was downstream from a narrow white water chute, and the stream was characterized by deep pockets and runs. During October in previous years the trout of Clear Creek responded favorably to a Jake’s gulp beetle, so that is what occupied my line, as I made my first cast.

After ten minutes of unproductive fishing, I reached a place where some nice slow shelf pools presented themselves along the opposite shoreline. Once again history suggested that Clear Creek trout would respond to downstream drifts, so I lobbed some casts across the stream and commenced some rapid fire mending to allow the beetle to float without drag along the rocky bank. The technique worked, and an eleven inch rainbow trout nipped the low floating beetle just before it began to drag at the end of the slow water. I was quite pleased to land my first fish in uncharted water on Clear Creek.

Another shorter shelf pool existed above the home of fish number one, so I employed the same across and down approach, and miraculously a second rainbow grabbed the foam beetle at the lip. This spunky fish put up a nice battle and measured out at twelve inches. The afternoon was off to a superb start, and my outlook on the remainder of the day brightened.

I continued upstream, and while I made upstream casts on my side of the stream, I also searched for slack water along the far bank, since the across and down tactic yielded two early rainbows. After twenty minutes with no action, I encountered a nice midstream pocket and eddy behind a large exposed rock. The depth was moderate, and I popped the beetle in the middle of the small pool. The terrestrial crept a foot upstream toward the epicenter of the eddy, and suddenly a ten inch brown trout appeared and chomped the beetle. Prior to this success I was concerned about the absence of brown trout, and now I was reassured that they continued to inhabit Clear Creek.

After releasing the brown I decided to plop the beetle in the pool a few more times in case relatives were present. On one of these casts the beetle floated tight to the exposed rock, and just as it curled along the faster current seam, a dark form elevated for a closer look. I suspected that it was a rainbow trout, but I was unable to entice a strike, so I paused and exchanged the beetle for a parachute ant. On the second cast of the ant a small six inch brown trout darted to the surface and snatched the black morsel. I was not able to tempt the larger fish that inspected the beetle, so I surrendered to its selectivity and moved on.

The remainder of my time on Clear Creek mimicked my description of the first hour. I landed three additional trout including two more brown trout and a third rainbow. The last bow slurped the beetle in a shelf pool along the left bank, and it measured a length that was similar to the first two. In addition to the seven fish landed, I coaxed two or three additional brief hook ups by applying the across and down ploy. I cannot explain why this presentation is effective other than the fact that the fish see the fly before the leader.

Monday evolved into a nice bonus day of fishing on Clear Creek, as I discovered a new section and reversed the bad karma of 9/18 and 8/29. The weather was unseasonably warm for October 16, and I landed seven decent trout by Clear Creek standards in two hours of fishing. All the netted fish succumbed to surface flies with Jake’s gulp beetle attracting the most interest. Quite a bit of interesting water remained between my exit point and the parking lot, and I plan to revisit in the near future if the weather cooperates.

Fish Landed: 7

Cache la Poudre River – 10/15/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: The canyon west of the Narrows.

Cache la Poudre River 10/15/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

My good friend and fishing companion Danny Ryan contacted me and expressed an interest in fishing. We quickly exchanged availability information and settled on Sunday October 15 as the date of our scheduled adventure. Having recently sampled the North Fork of the St. Vrain and Big Thompson with moderate success, I suggested a trip to the Cache la Poudre River west of Ft. Collins. Fishing the Poudre in the fall was a new endeavor for me, and I hoped the fishing might surpass my experience on the St. Vrain and Big Thompson.

On Sunday morning I picked Danny up at the 84th Avenue Sportsman’s Warehouse, and I was introduced to Juls’ and Danny’s new buddy, Wilson. Danny and Juls adopted Wilson from an animal rescue mission, and he has been in their small family for three weeks. Wilson lived in an overcrowded dog pound in Texas, where the ratio of dogs to care givers was 1,200 to 6, and consequently he suffers from PTSD. I am very thankful that caring folks such as Danny and Juls exist in this harsh world.

As I drove north on I25 and west on CO 14, Danny and I caught up on all the significant life events that transpired since our last fishing outing in the spring. Time passed quickly until we arrived at a paved pullout along CO 14 west of the Narrows in the Poudre Canyon. The weather was spectacular with the high temperature approaching seventy degrees on Sunday. I made four visits to the Cache la Poudre in July, and I was mildly surprised to view the low flows that existed in the middle of October. Many areas, that offered wide riffles sections and deep pockets in July, were now reduced to trickles of water flowing through exposed boulder fields.

We searched for segments where the river bed narrowed and thus created deeper pools and runs, and our first stop met this criteria. I once again assembled my Orvis Access four weight in an effort to ease the stress on my tennis elbow, and we descended a faint path to the river. Danny crossed at the tail to arrive along the opposite shoreline, and we began progressing upstream in parallel. I knotted a size 14 gray stimulator to my line and began to probe the clear riffles and runs in front of me. After fifteen minutes I failed to generate any interest, so I exchanged the stimulator for a Jake’s gulp beetle. I was certain that the plop of the terrestrial would attract the attention of the wary stream residents.

After another ten minutes of fruitless wading and casting, Danny, who was a bit downstream, announced that he had a fish on, and I paused to watch him land a nice rainbow trout in the thirteen inch range that crushed a royal wulff. During the interim period I added a salad spinner midge imitation as a dropper, but with the news that Danny tempted a fish with a surface dry fly, I reverted to the gray stimulator.

Once again we progressed upstream until we approached a spot where huge vertical rocks bordered the river. Danny began to cast directly upstream and allowed his flies to drift back along the base of the rock wall, while I cast across and executed downstream drifts from the riffles at the top of the run. On the second cast a fish head emerged, but at the last second it turned away from my fly. I developed a tangle in my fly line which forced me to rest the water, but Danny informed me that several rises were visible in the area of my recent refusal. I managed to unravel my snarl, and when I fluttered the stimulator back to the vicinity of the rises, another head appeared. This time, unlike earlier, the rainbow trout engulfed my imitation, and I managed to guide a husky twelve inch fish into my net. I was on the scoreboard, and I was pleased that Danny and I each landed a fish in the early going.

After I photographed and released my first catch of the day, Danny experienced a temporary hook up on a brown trout along the rock wall. We continued our upstream migration over the next thirty minutes, and at noon we decided to return to the car for lunch. Before eating, however, we discussed our options, and we both agreed to travel west and explore new water. We hoped that the canyon narrowed, and this in turn might offer deeper holes and more structure for trout.

We tossed our gear in the car, and I drove west for twenty minutes until we parked across from the Sleeping Elephant rock formation. The stream in this area carried less volume than our first destination, as we probably journeyed beyond several tributaries. We quickly downed our lunches and followed a worn path downstream for fifty yards and then cut back to the river (more a creek in this area). I continued casting the stimulator for a bit, but Danny generated another temporary hook up in a deep run below the point of a long island, and he revealed that the fish nabbed his trailing nymph. This prompted me to reconsider my approach, and I reconfigured with a size 10 Chernobyl ant and a beadhead hares ear on a 2.5 foot dropper.

With this combination in place I cast to a nice deep run next to a large boulder, and an eleven inch brown trout surfaced and crushed the Chernboyl. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events. I captured a photograph and released the wild brown trout and continued on my way. We were now at a point where the river split around a very long island, so Danny explored the left channel, while I migrated up the right branch.

Even prior to the split the river was quite low, and now I was dealing with 40% of the full flow. Most of the pockets and runs were quite marginal due to the reduced volume, and I moved quite rapidly by skipping the uninteresting shallow riffles. Utilizing the two fly dry/dropper in the low conditions spooked several fish, and I debated returning to a single light dry fly, but I decided to seek deep pools and places with more cover rather than change flies. To some degree the strategy worked, as I coaxed two additional brown trout into my net, when they snatched the beadhead hares ear in marginal pockets. I was pleased to boost the fish count to four, but Sunday was more about spending time with Danny and enjoying the perfect fall weather.

I reached the top of the right channel and looked back to see Danny working the left flow twenty yards below the upper tip of the island. I could see a nice deep pool ahead, where the combined flow of the river dumped into a depression next to another large boulder. I cautiously approached and shot two casts to the low end of the pool with no sign of a fish. At this point I decided to go directly to the sweet spot, and I lobbed the Chernobyl and hares ear to the area where the center current spilled over some exposed rocks. The large foam ant floated a couple feet, and then it disappeared. Upon seeing this development I raised my rod tip and felt the throb of some significant weight.

A rainbow trout rocketed about the pool several times in an effort to shed my hares ear, but eventually I guided the husky fourteen inch trout into my net. What a bonus! I could scarcely believe my good fortune, as I gently positioned the Sunday prize for several photos and a movie.

I was now reinvigorated, and after Danny caught up to me, we continued our progress, but the results did not reward our enthusiasm. Danny was in the middle of a long dry spell, so at 3PM we agreed to call it a day. We hiked back to the car, stashed our gear and returned to Ft. Collins, where we paused for a cold craft beer or two and dinner at Odell Brewing’s tasting room and outdoor patio. Danny suggested that this was the highlight of the day.

Sunday was a gorgeous day among spectacular scenery, and I shared it with my good friend Danny. The fishing was average at best, but it is not always about the fish count. Hopefully we can meet again soon for another stream adventure.

Fish Landed: 5

North Fork of the St. Vrain – 10/13/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Buttonrock Dam

North Fork of the St. Vrain 10/13/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Steady flows of 26 CFS attracted me to the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek below Buttonrock Reservoir. That and a trip to the Big Thompson on Thursday during which I traveled along the North Fork for several miles.

I found myself in the parking lot below the gate that marks the entrance to the access road to the St. Vrain at 10:45AM, and after donning my waders and assembling my Orvis Access four weight I was on my way. I hiked for thirty minutes and then angled to the stream where the bank was comfortably gradual. The temperature at the parking lot was fifty degrees and the wind gusted with surprising frequency. These factors caused me to wear my fleece and raincoat as well as my New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps. The thirty minute hike caused me to overheat a bit, but I embraced the double layers throughout the day and never felt over dressed.

The stream meanwhile was quite clear, and the flows were nearly ideal. On Thursday I experienced success with a gray size 14 stimulator, so I elected to begin Friday with the same offering. The Big Thompson and St. Vrain are both front range streams on the eastern side of the continental divide, so perhaps the fish savored the same food items? The choice proved to be favorable, as I landed two brown trout in the first hour, and I managed to connect temporarily with a third, before it leaped above the creek and slipped free of the hook. The section where I began was mostly in shadows, and I discovered that a downstream drift provided the best visibility. All three of the fish in the first hour emerged from deep narrow slots where several currents merged, and over the remainder of the day I discovered that these were the most productive stream structures.

After lunch the catch rate slowed a bit, but I continued with the stimulator, and upon spying some blue winged olives, I added a size 20 RS2. The stimulator produced a fourth small brown trout, and then the RS2 earned its keep, when a small brown trout nabbed the baetis nymph, as it began to swing in a relatively shallow area. I pressed on with the abbreviated dry/dropper approach, but the BWO hatch intensified, and it seemed that my small nymph should be attracting more attention. I concluded that I needed to get deeper by pairing the baetis nymph with a larger subsurface pattern.

I opted for a yellow fat Albert, and below it I attached a beadhead hares ear and a beadhead soft hackle emerger size 20. The foam top fly suspended the two nymphs, and the weight of the larger hares ear produced deeper drifts. The change succeeded somewhat, and I landed two additional small brown trout to increment the fish count to seven. The two fish that succumbed to the dry/dropper snatched the soft hackle emerger at the tail of the dirft.

By 2:30 I reached the point where a lower outflow from the dam merged with the main creek that emanated from the main spillway upstream. The confluence created several nice deep runs and a wide smooth bordering pools. I began drifting the dry/dropper offering through the lower run, but my casts were futile. I crossed the lower branch and positioned myself between the two merging currents and paused to scan the setting. Quite a few tiny blue winged olives danced over the surface, and a series of rises commenced along the main runs. Many of the splashy rises appeared to result from tiny fish, but I spotted a larger feeder that hovered a foot below the surface downstream from my position. I decided to convert to a CDC BWO for the last thirty minutes of fishing.

I opened my fly box and extracted a size 24 CDC olive and knotted it to my line, and then I lobbed a downstream cast to the area of the sighted fish. On each cast I checked my cast abruptly at eleven o’clock, and this created a pile of slack line that allowed the small morsel to gently drift downstream. The third attempt was perfect, and as the tuft of CDC floated into the vicinity of the target fish, it darted to the left and grabbed the fraud. I quickly powered the eight inch brown trout into my net, but despite the small size it was a thrill to fool a trout with a tiny fly and a downstream drift. It took a while to dry the CDC wing, but eventually I was back in action, and I landed two additional six inch rainbow trout to complete my day with a fish count of ten. I suspect that the small rainbows resulted from a stocking of subcatchable rainbows in an effort to supplement the natural reproduction of the brown trout subsequent to the 2013 flood.

The largest fish from the St. Vrain on Friday was a ten inch brown, but I did manage to reach double digits, and seven of the landed fish consumed a dry fly. The weather was a bit chilly, but the scenery was spectacular, and I had the stream to myself. I am sensing that twenty fish days are history, so I was quite pleased to enjoy reasonable success on Friday the 13th.

Fish Landed: 10

 

Big Thompson River – 10/12/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: First bridge after Noel’s Draw and then downstream another .5 mile.

Big Thompson River 10/12/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

When I checked flows on the DWR web site on Wednesday, I noticed that the Big Thompson River finally dropped to 113 CFS, and this was in the upper range of ideal. The Big T has been chugging along in the two hundred CFS range nearly all summer, so this piece of news was welcome. With high temperatures in Denver projected to reach the seventies after a snowstorm and frigid temperatures on Monday, I enthusiastically prepared to make the trip to the tailwater below Estes Park.

I arrived at a dirt parking area .75 mile below Noel’s Draw by 10:45, and after assembling my Orvis Access four weight rod I was prepared to cast at 11AM. I began fishing with a size 14 gray stimulator, and I quickly prospected some nice pocket water. After twenty minutes of futile casting, I dapped the stimulator in a tiny pocket in front of an exposed rock, and a chunky rainbow trout slurped the fake. The rainbow measured twelve inches, and I quickly snapped a couple photographs to capture my first fish of the day. Needless to say after failing to catch a fish on Sunday, I was thrilled to finally feel a tug on my line. My confidence plummeted rapidly after Sunday’s poor experience, and I savored this initial success.

Unfortunately this was the only fish to bend my rod between 11AM and 2PM, and my fragile sense of fly fishing bravado once again began to dip. I cycled through a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, a Jake’s gulp beetle, and a black parachute ant with only a refusal and inspection to show for my efforts. I sat along the stream and ate my lunch at 12:20PM, and when I resumed fishing, I decided to try a dry/dropper approach. The single dry fly method was not delivering results, so I surmised that perhaps the higher than normal flows promoted subsurface feeding.

It was a theory, but it did not prove to be reality. I tied a Chernboyl ant to my line and added a salvation nymph and RS2. I enticed a brown trout to smash the Chernboyl ant on top, but the fish wiggled free before I gained control. At 1:30 I waded underneath the bridge and found myself on the southeast side of the river, where I worked my way along the bank for a bit with no sign of fish. The lighting was challenging and the wading difficult, so I crossed back to the roadside in a wide relatively shallow riffle and continued upstream along the right bank.

The dry/dropper technique proved to be less productive than the single dry fly approach, so I snipped off the three flies and reverted to the gray stimulator. The stimulator accounted for my only landed fish, so why not give it another trial? Prior to Thursday’s trip I read my blog posts that chronicled previous visits to the Big Thompson in October, and I noted that a gray stimulator and gray deer hair caddis generated a fair amount of success.

After a few minutes I encountered another spot, where I was able to cross the stream, so I took advantage and began prospecting the left bank with the large attractor dry fly. As I made this transition to the opposite bank, a guide accosted me from the road. He asked if he could place his clients in the river across from the red house that was fifty yards upstream. I did not give it much thought, and I agreed to his proposal, since I was not having much success.

Eventually I covered the attractive slow water along the left bank with my stimulator, and I circled around a twenty yard whitewater chute. The guide and his two clients by now were wading in the long pool above the fast water, where I hoped to cross. Unfortunately the angler that was not accompanied by the guide began fishing at the tail, so I edged my way part way across, and then asked his permission to skirt just below his position. He agreed, and when I climbed to the top of the bank along the road, the guide hustled back and motioned to me. He was concerned that I changed my mind, but I told him that I simply wished to cross the river to return to the car, and the only safe wading location was at the tail just below his client. He was fine, and we exchanged information about effective flies, and I hiked back to the Santa Fe.

The guide was quite courteous, so I was not upset, but my path upstream was now blocked by the party of three. I was not prepared to quit, so I packed my gear in the car and drove downstream for another .75 mile to a nice wide pullout. From previous experience I knew that this section contained some very nice pockets and runs of moderate depth. I quickly grabbed my rod and gear and walked along the shoulder for a bit, until I cut down to the river to a stretch that contained some attractive pockets.

By now it was two o’clock, and I was entrenched on one fish after three hours of fishing. Needless to say my confidence was once again at a low ebb. I decided to stick with the stimulator a bit longer, but I already anticipated that my next step was to switch to a deer hair caddis. I made a few quick casts to some marginal small pockets, and then I encountered a gorgeous deep run along the far bank, where two currents merged in a deep trough. I made a couple casts across the main current and held my rod high so the line would not drag. On the third cast I executed a reach cast and flipped the line upstream thus enabling a very nice long drag free drift, and just as the fly bobbed through the seam where the currents merged, it disappeared in a swirl. I set the hook and quickly maneuvered a ten inch rainbow trout to my net.

After I released my second catch of the day, I sensed that the run was too good to hold only one fish, so I made a couple more reach casts. On the third drift a large nose appeared, and once again the stimulator disappeared in a swirl, and this time I connected with a beautiful fourteen inch rainbow trout. This was my best fish of the day, and I was ecstatic to finally feel the weight of a substantial fish.

The remainder of the afternoon was a blast. I landed a fourth rainbow on the gray stimulator, and then I spotted a few blue winged olives, as they tumbled along the surface, when the wind periodically gusted. In fact the wind was a huge negative during my entire time in the canyon. The BWO sighting prompted me to add a size 20 RS2 on a three foot dropper to the stimulator, and the move paid off, when I landed six brown trout that snatched the small nymph, as it began to swing or lift. Sandwiched between these brown trout was a fifth rainbow trout, and just like its rainbow cousins that rested in my net earlier, it slashed and ate the stimulator.

At the end of the day the fish counter rested on eleven, including six brown trout and five rainbows. The rainbows were on average larger than the browns. It was interesting to note that all the brown trout grabbed the trailing RS2, and all the rainbows smacked the stimulator. I landed one trout in the first three hours and netted ten in the last two hours. It was a Jekyll and Hyde day in many ways, but I was pleased to reach double digits on a blustery afternoon with higher than normal flows on the Big Thompson River.

Fish Landed: 11

South Platte River – 10/08/2017

Time: 12:30PM – 3:00PM

Location: Waterton Canyon special regulation water

South Platte River 10/08/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

It only takes one bad day, and I begin to doubt my ability to catch fish. Apparently I have a fragile fly fishing confidence level. My fears are totally illogical, as I amassed a fish count in excess of 1,000 in 2017, yet my body of work includes a fair number of fishless days. Sunday was one of those.

On Saturday Jane and I cycled up Waterton Canyon to Strontia Springs Dam and back, and the trail followed the South Platte River for nearly the entire route. My eyes were constantly drawn to the gorgeous water in the canyon below, so I decided to give the area a shot on Sunday. The high in Denver on Saturday poked into the eighties, and although Sunday was gorgeous, the temperature peaked in the low seventies. The weather could not have been nicer for a day of fishing.

The meteorologists were also projecting a winter storm beginning Sunday evening with measureable accumulations on Monday and an overnight low on October 9 of twenty-three degrees. This prompted Jane and I to winterize the sprinkler system on Sunday morning. In addition we transplanted some herbs to pots and brought them in the house for protection. These activities delayed my departure for fishing, but I assumed that the best part of the day was noon to three o’clock, and I targeted that time frame.

The Waterton Canyon parking lot was quite full, but I was fortunate to grab a spot after someone departed. By the time I stuffed a few remaining items in my backpack and unloaded my mountain bike, it was 11:30, and thirty minutes of pedaling delivered me to a location .5 mile above the Rattlesnake picnic pavilion. I consumed my lunch along the dirt road, and then I removed my gear from the backpack. After a few minutes I was attired in my waders, and I assembled my Sage four weight. I stashed my bike and backpack below the lip of the road and found the least risky path down a bank to the river. I emphasize least risky, because the steepness and loose granular soil presented a difficult challenge.

The water before me was fairly fast with deep slots and pockets. I was fairly certain that deep nymphing was the recommended approach, but I decided to test the dry/dropper method before going deep. I knotted a hopper Juan to my line and added a beadhead hares ear and ultra zug bug and began probing the likely holding lies. I persisted with this method for thirty minutes, but despite some expert drifts, no signs of trout revealed themselves to my anxious eyes.

I acquiesced to the conventional wisdom and arranged a deep nymphing system on my line. For this approach I tried an emerald caddis pupa as the top fly and added a RS2 beneath it. Once again I simply exercised my arm, and then I arrived at a section of fast rapids, where the current ripped along the bank. This forced me to battle through some scrub oaks and prickly bushes in order to arrive at a nice bend pool. I was about to resume casting, when I was startled to see another fisherman twenty yards above me. This forced a retreat up another steep bank, whereupon I circled around the deep pool using the road.

When I passed the rock outcropping between the road and the river, I descended a worn path to an area above the bend pool. Here I encountered a nice long deep section, and I began to lob some casts in the lower end. As I did this, two random rises appeared, and I paused to observe a couple tiny mayflies, as they skittered across the surface. I began to sense that this might represent my only opportunity to catch a fish, so I removed the dry/dropper system and tied a size 24 CDC blue winged olive to my line. I proceeded to cover the bottom one-third of the pool with the tiny mayfly with some very delicate fluttering casts, but the river residents ignored my speck of fluff. I switched to a black parachute ant in case the sporadic rises related to terrestrials, but this move was equally ineffective. In fact I never spotted another rise in this area, and one additional surface ring farther up in the pool represented my total evidence of the presence of fish on the day.

I moved on to another section of fast pocket water, and the small dry fly approach seemed futile for this water type, so I reverted to the nymphing set up. In this phase I combined a beadhead hares ear with a copper john, but the fish were once again showing no interest. Eventually I found a couple longer pools, and the small olives reappeared, so I swapped the copper john for a juju baetis and WD40. I used a dead drift, swings, lifts and bad downstream mends; but none of these techniques initiated action from South Platte River trout.

I told Jane that I would quit by 3PM, so I decided to climb the bank to the road, and I returned to the pool where I spotted three rises earlier. I positioned myself at the tail and rested the water, while I once again removed the indicator, split shot and flies and then tied a CDC BWO back on the tippet. I probably stared at the water for five minutes, when I heard a voice high above me, and Jane announced her arrival. I told her I was giving the river one last chance for ten minutes, and then I would meet her at the Rattlesnake picnic pavilion.

After another three minutes I lost my patience, and I fluttered ten casts to the smooth bottom end of the pool with the hope that blind prospecting might draw the interest of the fish that rose earlier. A glimmer of hope sparked, as I spotted several tiny olives that skittered across the surface in their attempt to become airborne. Alas the positive vibe was short lived, and the dry fly casts were as fruitless as my earlier efforts. In one final act of desperation I removed the CDC olive and attached a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. Five casts with vigorous plops did not arouse interest, so I hooked my fly to the guide, scrambled up the bank and walked my bike and backpack down the road to a rendezvous with Jane.

The weather was perfect, the leaves were glowing, and the bighorns were butting horns, but I was unable to connect with a single trout on October 8. The flows were 219 CFS, and that is higher than ideal for the narrow canyon below Strontia Springs. That is my excuse, and I am sticking with it. Flows above the diversion need to drop before I make a return trip.

Fish Landed: 0

South Platte River – 10/05/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Locatoin: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/05/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

An outstanding day of fishing on September 23 and nearly a week of waiting for the weather to improve had me anxious for an October fishing trip. Finally the prognosticators suggested high temperatures in the seventies for Thursday, October 5, and I concluded that this translated to pleasant weather on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon.

As the days grow shorter, the early morning temperatures linger in the forties, so I took my time and departed the house by 8:15 on Thursday morning. This enabled me to pull into a dirt parking lot along the South Platte River by 10:30, and after I gathered my gear and assembled my Sage four weight, I was on the water casting a dry/dropper configuration by 11AM. The flows were nearly ideal, as they tumbled along at 85 CFS. I adorned my line with a tan pool toy, beadhead hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug; and I lobbed the three flies in all the likely pockets and deep runs.

The section that served as my launch point was very much to my liking with numerous deep pockets and runs, and the fish appeared in the expected places. By the time I broke for lunch at 1PM, the fish counter climbed to eleven. Most of the morning and early afternoon fly eaters snatched the hairs ear, although a couple relished the ultra zug bug. Two of the trout that rested in my net were small rainbows, and the remainder represented the brown trout species. All were in the six to ten inch size range, and this was indicative of my day on the river.

Prior to lunch the thread on the hares ear unraveled behind the eye of the hook, and since I was forced to reconfigure my line, I inserted a salvation nymph as my end of line offering. Between 1PM and 2:30 I added five more trout to my count, but the catch rate slowed measurably, and the size of the fish remained in the small range cited earlier. Several periods of tiny blue winged olive emergence occurred, and during an early hatch I witnessed a handful of rises. This prompted me to remove the dry/dropper arrangement, and I knotted a size 24 CDC blue winged olive to my line. After a couple casts, the riser along the right bank ceased to feed, but another sporadic feeder along the left bank appeared. I positioned myself quite a distance downstream and false cast off to the side and then dropped a twenty-five foot cast above the point of the rise. The tiny olive slowly crept downstream, until it was in the vicinity of the fish that revealed itself, and then  a bulge appeared. I immediately reacted with a hook set, and I felt the weight of a fish for less than a second, before it slipped free. That was the extent of my success with the small dry fly.

I moved up the river to another long smooth pool, but I could not locate rising fish. I climbed the bank and returned to the car and drove upstream for .5 mile, where I parked. For the remainder of the afternoon I explored some delicious deep runs and pocket water, where I enjoyed quite a bit of success catching decent rainbow trout on a previous visit. That would not be the case on Thursday. I reconfigured my line with a size 8 Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph; and I resumed the tactic of pocket hopping. One of my sixteen fish resulted from this period. The sky cleared, and the wind abated, and I enjoyed the nicest weather of the day; but apparently it was not favorable for the South Platte River underwater residents. Several waves of small blue winged olives appeared, and I tested a RS2 and soft hackle emerger behind the hares ear, but none of these ploys changed my fortunes.

During the last half hour I removed the dry/dropper flies and tied a cheech leech to my line. I stayed with my floating line, as I was too lazy to change out my reel for the sink tip in my backpack. I stripped, tumbled, and danced the orange and brown creation with dumbbell eyes through three or four delicious deep runs and pools, but I never observed a flash or follow. Fall and brown trout and streamers are supposed to go together, but I have yet to experience this phenomenon.

For ten minutes before I returned to the car to quit, I flicked a Jake’s gulp beetle in some pockets along the bank and at the tail of a very attractive deep run, but once again I merely exercised my arm. The last hour of my day was rather unproductive.

After over a week of cool and wet weather, it was nice to get out in some sunshine on Thursday. Sixteen fish is respectable, but I never landed a fish in excess of eleven inches, and the action was disappointingly slow for the last couple hours. Winter seems to be advancing faster in 2017 than was the case in 2016, but last year was probably the exception. I will continue to look for pleasant days to create a few more memories in the 2017 season.

Fish Landed: 16

Boulder Creek – 09/29/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Canyon west of Boulder, CO.

Boulder Creek 09/29/2017 Photo Album

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The sudden influx of cool wet weather in Colorado prevented me from fishing on Wednesday and Thursday, so I was quite anxious to return to a local stream. When I reviewed the Front Range drainages, I learned that Clear Creek, Bear Creek and Boulder Creek flows surged as a result of the steady rain earlier in the week. Of the three Boulder Creek looked the most encouraging, since the cubic feet per second settled out in the thirties. Although this was higher than the period prior to the rains, it remained in the low end of ideal flows. The South Boulder Creek tailwater graph meanwhile looked like a stairway, as the water managers ramped up the outflows from 13 CFS to 246 CFS over a four day period. I was extremely disappointed to see this after two recent banner days on the tailwater northwest of Golden.

I chose Boulder Creek and managed to arrive at a wide pullout along the highway by 10:15. As I traveled along the stream in the lower end of the canyon near Boulder, the clarity was questionable, but I pressed on. Persistence paid off, as the murkiness subsided considerably by the time of selected a section of the creek to fish, and the passage of time seemed to aid water translucency as well. The weather on the other hand did not change considerably during my time on the water. The air temperature remained in the low fifties, and the sky was shrouded in dense gray clouds during my stay. I wore a fleece layer along with my raincoat, and my New Zealand brimmed hat with ear flaps topped my head all afternoon. Despite dressing for winter conditions I remained on the edge of chilliness.

I began the day with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph, and an ultra zug bug; but after thirty minutes of casting, I failed to land a fish. Two small river inhabitants nipped the fat Albert, but I was unable to sustain contact. Near the end of this period I managed to land a slender six inch brown trout that snatched the hares ear, but it was clear that the dry/dropper was not setting the world on fire. I removed the three flies and opted for a Jake’s gulp beetle. The large beetle is generally popular in the fall months on front range streams, and two fish showed interest in the fat Albert grasshopper imitation. The terrestrial theory unfortunately proved to be faulty, so I shifted to a size fourteen gray stimulator.

The attractor garnered some attention in the form of refusals, but the fish consistently turned away at the last second. I downsized to a size 16 olive deer hair caddis, and I was quite shocked to discover that the small selective trout of Boulder Creek rejected this offering as well. What could induce these small picky eaters to consume my flies on Friday? I found a nice jumble of flat rocks and paused to eat lunch, while I pondered my next move.

Terrestrials clearly attracted the most attention, so why not downsize again to a parachute black ant? The size 18 ant worked quite well on South Boulder Creek, so perhaps the inhabitants of its sister branch savored it as well. I knotted the small ant with an orange poly wing post to my line, and I began to cast it to the attractive pockets and pools, as I worked my way up the steep gradient section of the creek. Finally I stumbled onto a winning tactic, and four brown trout sipped the ant. All four trout suddenly appeared in slow moving areas tight to the protective cover of large boulders.

I boulder hopped my way upstream while popping the ant in likely brown trout lairs, but after an hour and four netted fish, the period of time between catches lengthened, and I grew weary of struggling to follow the tiny fly in the dim light created by the overcast conditions. The fish count plateaued at five, and I yearned for a more visible approach, so I converted back to the dry/dropper method. During this return engagement, however, I utilized a size 10 Chernboyl ant as the top fly, and I replaced the ultra zug bug with a salvation nymph. The beadhead hares ear carried over from the first go round in the middle position.

Over the remaining 1.5 hours I landed an additional five small brown trout, and I was pleased that the dry/dropper approach finally proved effective. Four of the trout consumed the salvation nymph, and one gullible stream resident crushed the Chernobyl ant. By 3:30 I approached a convenient stopping point, and I was very fatigued from climbing over large rocks. The cold temperatures conspired with wet hands to create stiff fingers, so I carefully climbed up the steep bank and ambled back along the shoulder to the car and called it a day.

I managed to barely reach double digits, and Friday September 29 was a very challenging day on Boulder Creek. The fish were small and the weather was adverse, but I suppose I was fortunate to register a decent day in the aftermath of cool wet weather. Hopefully additional mild Indian summer days are in my future in 2017.

Arkansas River – 09/26/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Chafee – Fremont County line

Arkansas River 09/26/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Tuesday September 26, 2017 was a day, when quality surpassed quantity. After two cool wet days on Sunday and Monday, I decided to make the long three hour drive to the Arkansas River below Salida. For some reason I suffered through an Arkansas River slump over the last couple years, and I decided to make another attempt to recover some of the fall magic from three to five years ago. I reviewed my posts on the Arkansas River on this blog, and I determined that my last special autumn day on the Arkansas River was October 2, 2015. My goal for Tuesday was to create a day of fishing that approached the early October 2015 endeavor.

I departed Denver by 7AM and arrived at the pullout high above the river at the Fremont – Chafee County line by 10AM. By the time I gathered my gear and assembled my Sage four weight and crossed the river and hiked downstream on the railroad tracks, it was 10:30. I began the day with a tan pool toy hopper, a beadhead hares ear nymph, and a salvation nymph. I was positioned midway down a huge shelf pool, and I began covering the area by spraying casts systematically up and across. After three drifts between the strong main current and the shoreline, I took three or four steps and repeated the process. After ten minutes I detected a pause in the hopper and initiated a hook set only to discover, that I foul hooked a twelve inch brown trout.

At the top of the pool I ran a drift along the current seam, and as the pool toy bounced through a narrow slot between the fast run and a large submerged rock, it dipped abruptly. Again I raised my rod to set the hook, and this time I was certain that the object on the other end of the line was hooked in the mouth. The indignant fish streaked up and down the shelf pool several times, until I gained the upper hand and raised it into my net. There before me was a husky sixteen inch rainbow trout with a salvation nymph in its lip, and I was thrilled to begin my day on the Arkansas River with such a fine catch.

Once I released my prize first fish of the day, I moved upstream to another shorter and shallower shelf pool. In the lower half of this area a twelve inch brown trout grabbed the same salvation nymph, and I felt somewhat optimistic after landing two fine trout in the first hour. Brimming with anticipation I worked my way up along the left side of the long narrow island, but the dry/dropper combination failed to produce a look or refusal.

I returned to the bottom point of the island, and since it was noon, I sat on a gravel bar and ate my lunch. I intended to change my approach for the shallow slow moving north channel, and the lunch break was a convenient time to reconfigure my setup. I removed the three flies and replaced them with a single size 10 Jake’s gulp beetle. In the small pockets below the long main pool, I noticed three looks, as fish moved to get a closer view of the beetle, but in each case they backed off at the last instant. I was frustrated by this turn of events and began to formulate an adjustment. Before making a change, however, I decided to plop the beetle in the shallow smooth pool just above me. A cast directly upstream generated another refusal, but on the third heave within two feet of the north bank, a head appeared, and a fifteen inch brown trout engulfed the beetle. The brown reacted instantly to the plop, and the visual image of a large fish crushing the foam imitation from above remains quite vivid in my memory.

My confidence in the beetle soared, and I continued patiently prospecting the pool and the deep run where the current entered. Certainly more opportunistic trout lived in this fish condo, and they could not refuse a terrestrial snack. As it turns out they could. I made long casts and covered the entire twenty yard segment, and I never saw a look, refusal or take. I was dumbfounded by this development, but I turned my attention to the next section. Three relatively nice pockets greeted me above the long pool, and I plopped and drifted the beetle through all of them. Similar to the pockets below the main pool, the beetle attracted interest but no take in each small hole. I could see the tail of each fish wag, as it elevated for a closer look.

What should I do now? The fly shop fishing reports mentioned the presence of late pale morning duns and red quills. Would these fish recognize a mayfly imitation? I snipped off the beetle and knotted a size 16 light gray comparadun to my tippet. I floated this over each of the places where I observed fish, and in each case the fish ignored the dry fly and never revealed their presence.

The wind continued to gust with increased ferocity, and this caused my thoughts to revisit terrestrials. Maybe a smaller earth bound insect would fool the trout? I opted for a size 18 black parachute ant with an orange wing post for visibility. I began with the long and relatively shallow riffle pocket just above me, and on the third drift the ant was ferociously attacked. The deceived eater was not happy, and it streaked across the small channel and then downstream. I maintained constant pressure, and eventually the fifteen inch rainbow trout grew tired, and I nudged it into my net. It was very gratifying to cycle through a series of flies and finally settle on an ant that duped such a splendid fish.

But two pockets remained. I thoroughly dried the ant and took a few steps downstream to get a better position for casts across to the angled riffle on the north bank. I began with three drifts through the lanes closest to me, and then I dropped a cast that floated along the far side of a small seam. In a flash a brown trout appeared from the edge of the current, and it too had an appetite for ants. I raised the rod firmly, and the brown trout thrashed and dove and executed a variety of futile head shakes and rolls, until it grew weary and surrendered to my net. What a thrill to revisit the scene of three refusals and then hoodwink two better than average Arkansas River residents!

By now it was one o’clock, and I was perched on five landed fish. The catch rate was fairly typical, but the average size of the fish was very satisfying. Unfortunately I was unable to sustain the momentum of the first 2.5 hours over the remainder of the afternoon. The section of the river between my crossing point and the top of the island historically produced decent action, but on Tuesday I managed one thirteen inch brown trout that slurped the beetle. Another fish refused the beetle in a long riffle, and that was the extent of the action. I continued with the ant in the slower water along the north bank, and then I switched back to Jake’s gulp beetle for better visibility, as the water velocity increased. As mentioned the beetle produced number six and a refusal, and then it ceased to be a factor.

I spotted a handful of tiny blue winged olives, when an occasional cloud blocked the sun, so I added a RS2 on a dropper behind the beetle, but the ploy was ineffective. I suspected that the faster riffles and deeper runs required a larger fly to attract attention, and I responded with a yellow fat Albert and trailed a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph, but my theory was refuted. I exchanged the salvation for a size 18 soft hackle emerger to once again capitalize on possible subsurface blue winged olive nymph activity. It did not work. Toward the end of the afternoon period I reverted to a Jake’s gulp beetle and a parachute hopper with a hares ear body, but these offerings were similarly avoided.

At 3:30 I reached the crossing point, and I was weary and bored from the lack of action, so I returned to the car and quit for the day. Originally I considered staying in a hotel in Salida in order to leverage the long drive and fish a second day, but the frustrating afternoon sealed my decision to make the return trip to Denver.

I landed six quality fish in five hours of fishing. The netted fish included two excellent rainbow trout that measured fifteen and sixteen inches. All the brown trout fell in the twelve to fifteen inch range, and they were likewise very respectable fish. Had the afternoon success mirrored the first 2.5 hours, I would have remained for a second day, but the late fishing drought was fresh in my memory, and I could not envision myself on the Arkansas River for another day. The constantly gusting wind and the associated chill were also factors in my decision. I continue to search for the magic of the Arkansas River in 2017.

Fish Landed: 6

South Platte River – 09/23/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 09/23/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Outstanding September fly fishing continued on Saturday, September 23, as 2017 evolved into another banner year. One ingredient missing from my life over the last five years was the presence of my son, Dan, and daughter, Amy, as they lived in distant locations that necessitated infrequent visits. One half of this situation self corrected at the end of August, when my son and his girlfriend moved back to Colorado.

Shortly after Dan’s arrival in Denver, we scheduled a fly fishing weekend. The original plan consisted of two days of fly fishing and one night of camping on the weekend of September 23 and 24. As the long anticipated days approached, however, the weather forecast deteriorated. Rain was predicted to move into Colorado late on Saturday afternoon and then continue through the night and into Sunday morning. Making the scenario even more adverse was the forecast high of 51 degrees on Sunday. Dan and I conferred and decided to adjust our plan to a single day of fly fishing on Saturday. Cool temperatures and overcast skies on Saturday prior to the rain actually sounded very conducive to excellent fly fishing.

On Saturday morning at 11AM Dan and I found ourselves next to a beautiful section of the South Platte River. The temperature was in the upper fifties, but bright sunshine dominated large gray clouds for the first three hours of fishing. We were both prepared with an extra layer and rain gear in case the late afternoon showers became a reality. I selected my Sage four weight rod, and I began my day with a tan pool toy hopper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. Dan, meanwhile, waded to the eastern side of the river, and he began with the same lineup of flies.

We fished in parallel for the first two hours, as we slowly migrated upstream, and we had a blast. I scooped fourteen trout into my net, before we took a break to eat our lunches. Dan’s catch rate was a bit lower, but he landed eight respectable fish including quite a few very nice rainbows in the thirteen inch range. Initially I fished with a single dropper, the hares ear, but after twenty minutes I added an ultra zug bug as the second dropper. During the first half of the period prior to lunch, the hares ear was the hot fly despite being in the less advantageous upper position. As the day progressed, however, the ultra zug bug seemed to produce more fish, and prior to lunch I replaced the hares ear with a salvation nymph and shifted the ultra zug bug to the top position.

This nymph combination was the mainstay of my lineup for most of the remainder of the day, although I experimented with an emerald caddis pupa and RS2 for short intervals. After lunch the salvation nymph went on a hot streak, as it tempted fish on dead drifts, and also as it began to swing at the end of long passes through attractive runs and slots. For the final fifteen minutes I removed the dry/dropper system and knotted a size 10 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line. The beetle continued to impress me with its late season effectiveness, as two brown trout slurped it, after I plopped the foam terrestrial in two relatively shallow slow moving pockets along the bank. The first beetle eater was a thirteen inch brown trout that may have been my best brown of the day. At one point during the afternoon I lost all three flies, when a hooked fish crossed lines with Dan’s. The necessity to rig anew caused me to replace the pool toy with a size 8 Chernboyl ant, and the foam attractor accounted for one medium sized fish.

Dan stuck with his hopper/dropper setup throughout the day, and he enjoyed a solid streak of landed fish over the last hour. Although Dan’s fish count was somewhat below mine, he seemed to land larger fish on average as well as more rainbow trout. He began the day with a pool toy, but lost it to a rock or branch and replaced it with a size 8 Charlie boy hopper. The Charlie boy became saturated, and the deer hair wing was matted, so I gave him a yellow fat Albert. The bright color and improved buoyancy really seemed to elevate his fish catching game.

Large clear smooth pools proved to be very challenging, as were deep holes. Our most dependable structures were runs, riffles and pockets of moderate depth. I was surprised to land quite a few relatively large brown trout from shallow pockets near the right bank. By the end of the day my fish count mounted to twenty-six, and it included five rainbow trout with the remainder identifiable as brown trout. Dan estimated his final tally at eighteen.

At four o’clock light rain commenced so we quickly pulled on our raincoats and returned to the car. As predicted the rain intensified, and it was accompanied by thunder and lightning, and we were relieved to reach the car safely. The heavy rain and drop in temperature vindicated our decision to reduce the fishing trip from two days to one.

Saturday developed into perhaps my favorite day of 2017. The fish count and size of fish were a nice bonus, but being able to spend a day fishing with my newly returned son was the true reason for my satisfaction. We never encountered another fisherman, and we occupied a gorgeous remote setting. I treasure days like Saturday, and I hope that a few more are in my near term future.

Fish Landed: 26