Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: First bend above Springer Gulch Campground
Fish Landed: 6
After spending two weeks unpacking boxes and moving into our new home, I was very anxious to get out on a stream and flex my casting arm. Jane agreed that I needed to feel my rod bend, so I planned a fishing day for Sunday, August 29, Dan’s birthday. I researched the options carefully as the end of August and beginning of September are typically hot and dry and largely devoid of insect hatches. I narrowed the choices to the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and the Arkansas River. The professional reports on Eleven Mile sounded like the fishing was a bit more consistent there than the Arkansas River so I made that my destination.
I made the 2.5 hour trip and arrived in the canyon in the catch and release area and was ready to fish by around 10AM. I chose a stretch I’d fished previously where the river fans out a bit resulting in attractive riffles and runs instead of the deep plunge pools that dominate other stretches. I parked in a pullout just beyond a bend that came after the turn off for the Springer Gulch Campground. I walked downstream along a path a bit until I encountered another fisherman, so I entered fifty yards above him. I began casting a yellow Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear. I covered a short distance when a couple with two dogs approached from above and began tossing a ball for the dogs to chase. Fortunately I was along the far side and the dogs remained mostly on the bank.
I moved upstream closer to their position and in a nice riffle stretch landed a medium size brown on the hares ear nymph. I began noticing clusters of tricos in the air above the riffles, so decided to add a RS2 for a third fly on my setup. I covered a bunch of nice looking riffles and continued moving upstream. The couple with the dogs departed and I came upon a nice riffle area just downstream of where they had been. Here I landed a small brown on the tiny size 22 RS2. I also saw what appeared to be decent sized browns move toward my hopper but refuse. I cast to this area repeatedly with no success, but as I was doing so spotted another rise in the next riffle above where I was fishing. I placed some casts in that vicinity and on the fifth cast a nice thirteen inch brown rose and slammed my hopper.
It was now around 12:30 and additional fish were rising. I concluded that the tricos had fallen on the water and fish were tuned in to these small morsels. I searched through all my fly boxes in my front pack and found one nice trico in a small round plastic cylinder that contained mostly attractors that I’d tied for the Gunnison River trip three years ago. I decided to give this a try, but I didn’t have a good grip on the tiny fly and a gust of wind blew it out of my hands. I didn’t see it land and had to rethink my strategy.
I decided to eat lunch and search through my boxes in the van for additional tricos. After a twenty minute lunch, I was ready to return to action. I moved above where I’d finished the morning to some nice water where some logs had been angled into the stream for stream improvement. By this time, another couple had arrived with two dogs and was setting up lawn chairs by the edge of the stream with a pile of newspapers to read. I went back up to the road and circled around them and entered the stream twenty yards above right at the start of the angled timbers.
I had found two tricos in my boxes and placed them one of my main boxes in the front pack, but there was no evidence of tricos on the water anymore. I still had the hopper/BHHE/RS2 combination so began casting upstream along the left side. Much to my amazement in some fairly non-descript shallow water the hopper dipped and I set the hook and battled a beautiful 15 inch brown to the net. I photographed this fish so that I could prove to myself that it wasn’t a dream. The large brown had inhaled the beadhead hares ear.
I moved on up the stream and landed two more browns on the small RS2, one small and the other medium. By 1 PM I’d landed six trout and approached a large bend where I’d had fun casting to rising trout last fall. This area is just below a bridge, and the river splits around a small island and then bends to the straight stretch I’d just covered. I heard some voices and looked up to the road where I saw some young kids with inner tubes. Could they be floating the stretch I was fishing?
That’s exactly what happened. Four tubers came crashing down the riffles right through my prime fishing destination. I skipped around the main stream to the small side channel than skirted the south side of the island. I picked up a couple refusals in this area, but that would be the extent of the action for the rest of the afternoon. I moved above the bridge to a long smooth pool and spotted one trout along the edge which quickly raced away when I put one cast into range. Toward the top of the long pool I spotted a huge rainbow tucked under a large clump of aquatic vegetation. Since nothing seemed to be happening on the surface, I spent an hour or so changing flies and trying to tempt the monster. As I was fishing, I spotted two other browns along the current seam further out, and they flashed to my offerings several times, but refused them every time.
I moved further upstream to a spot I’d caught fish in previously. Here again I could see two or three fish working and inspecting my fly but refusing. I spent quite a bit of time in this location as well before calling it a day. In the last place I put on a size 22 CDC BWO, but that didn’t bring any success. I fished from 1-4PM without catching any fish.