Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Location: Below Gross Reservoir
The summer-like weather was expected to continue through Thursday, March 23, and I was quite anxious to take advantage before winter and snow returned. The DWR website indicated that the water managers increased the flows from Gross Reservoir from 14 CFS to 21 CFS, so I selected South Boulder Creek as my destination on Wednesday, March 22. Wednesday proved to be a great choice for fishing, as another beautiful spring day unfolded with mostly sunny skies. The temperature when I began descending the trail at the parking lot was 48 degrees, and when I returned at 3PM, it peaked around 70 degrees. This is very ideal for March 22 in Colorado.
When I caught a glimpse of the stream it was obviously fairly low, but at least it displayed uninterrupted flows. At 14 CFS the stream looks like a rock garden separated by intermittent puddles. An advantage of the lower flows is the ability to move through narrow canyon areas unimpeded by vertical rock walls, and for this reason I chose to hike away from the parking lot a good distance.
During my Wednesday fishing venture I landed twenty-seven trout, although the largest fish was only 12 inches. Despite the small size of my catch, I experienced great fun, as I moved frequently and plopped the dry/dropper in every enticing spot. Initially I focused on deep pockets and runs, but I was later surprised to learn that the fish were spread out in the riffles of moderate depth as well. All the landed fish were brown trout except for two small rainbows, and this ratio was unusual compared to my past experience in South Boulder Creek. I speculated that the rainbows were in a spawning mindset, and food was not a priority.
I began my search for trout with an olive stimulator trailing a beadhead hares ear, and I landed four small browns between 11AM and 11:45, at which point I took a lunch break. After lunch I learned that I mistakenly focused on the deep pools in the morning. I swapped the stimulator for a yellow fat Albert, retained the hares ear, and added a second dropper the the form of a salad spinner. In the next half hour I boosted the fish count from four to thirteen, as I fished the three fly combination in the riffles of moderate depth, while I was cautious to stay back so as not to startle the fish.
Amazingly fish materialized from nowhere to snatch the hares ear and the salad spinner. During this time the salad spinner accounted for three fish and several momentary hookups, but then it unraveled. I was forced to replace it, and I recently spied several small gray stoneflies fluttering about, so I chose a size 18 soft hackle emerger. The next period of fishing suggested that I over analyzed the situation, as the soft hackle emerger failed to produce. In retrospect I should have continued with the salad spinner, since it yielded three trout and several momentary hookups.
Between 12:30 and 3:00 I covered a large amount of water and built the fish count from thirteen to 27. During the afternoon the fish began to look to the surface more as evidenced by three browns that crushed the fat Albert. Early in the afternoon I replaced the soft hackle emerger with a mercury flashback black beauty, and this diminutive fly yielded one brown trout. Later I replaced the black beauty with an ultra zug bug, and two fish embraced that move by snatching the peacock imitation from the drift.
The final fish of the day was a small rainbow that rose to the surface and sipped a gray caddis. Just prior to this dry fly success, I broke off the three flies on a backcast, so I replaced the dry/dropper rig with the gray caddis. Fortunately I recovered the three flies that broke off, when I spotted the large foam attractor peeking up from a gap in two large boulders.
In summary I landed three fish on the salad spinner, one on a black beauty, two on the ultra zug bug, three on the fat Albert and one on a caddis adult. My workhorse fly, the beadhead hares ear delivered seventeen trout to my net, and it substantiated its position as my favorite all season fly. It was a fabulous early spring day. The temperature was in the sixties, the fish were hungry, and I did not encounter another soul while I fished. I am not about to quibble over the size of the fish.
Fish Landed: 27