Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM
Location: Below Gross Reservoir
I previously discussed the importance keeping expectations low when embarking on a fishing trip, but on Thursday April 6 I was a victim of not adhering to my own advice. I enjoyed a spectacular day on South Boulder Creek on March 22 when flows were 21 CFS, so imagine my reaction, when I checked the DWR web site and noted that the current volume remained at a slightly below ideal 30 CFS. Of course the weather forecast suggested that the high temperature in the canyon would likely peak in the low fifties, but with the proper attire I knew that it would be tolerable. When I compiled all the factors; tolerable weather, flows slightly above my previous visit, and a fabulous day on March 22; how could I not anticipate another fine day on South Boulder Creek?
I arrived at the upper parking lot below Gross Reservoir by 9AM, and after completing the task of climbing into my waders I assembled my Loomis five weight and set out on the trail that descends the steep hill to the stream. My car was the sole occupant of the parking lot, and I was pleased to know that I owned the entire length of stream miles below Gross Reservoir. The temperature was forty-one degrees when I departed, but I knew I would quickly generate excessive body heat, so I wrapped my light down parka around my waist under my waders. In a concession to the cool temperatures I topped my head with my New Zealand hat displaying ear flaps.
I was shocked to discover the amount of accumulated snow along the creek, which I estimated to be twelve inches, and this made hiking in the untracked snow extra challenging. Given the lack of competing fishermen and the difficulty of tromping through the deep heavy snow, I stopped after a forty minute hike and began my quest for trout in a gorgeous wide pool. I tied a yellow fat Albert to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and a size 18 salad spinner. I persisted with this configuration, until I stopped for lunch at 11:45, and I landed five small trout. The first two were brown trout, and the next three included two rainbows and one brown. Two of my early catches nipped the salad spinner, and the other three grabbed the beadhead hares ear.
Just before lunch I snapped off the hares ear and an ultra zug bug that replaced the unraveling salad spinner. Unbeknownst to me a large arching evergreen branch moved into the line of my backcast and grabbed my flies, so I used this misfortune as an opportunity to pause for lunch and then to make a change. I switched to a gray stimulator and trailed a RS2 and then a soft hackle emerger. A very attractive pool was next to my lunch spot, and I spotted five or six decent fish cruising the deep run and slow moving shelf pool. The two fish in the slow water slowly cruised about the pool and generated subtle sipping rises from time to time.
I attempted to dupe several trout in the tail of the run with a gray size 14 stimulator that trailed a beadhead hares ear and beadhead RS2, but the visible fish showed no signs of interest. I made futile casts to the taunting fish for quite a while but observed no reaction, so I shifted my attention to the two brown trout in the shallow slow shelf pool. After a couple unproductive casts, I decided to adjust, and I clipped off the two nymphs and added a size 20 CDC BWO behind the stimulator. I made some long casts to the top of the pool and allowed the tandem dry fly offering to drift twenty-five feet, so that both flies passed over the target trout. Nothing. What could they be eating?
Finally in a fit of frustration I shot a cast to the very top of the pool, and as the flies slowly floated a few feet, a small brown tipped up and sucked in the CDC BWO. I quickly executed a lift and felt weight on my rod, but then the tension released, and I accepted the fate of a long distance release.
Between lunch and 2:30 I accelerated my pace and covered a huge amount of water. For the most part I prospected with a size 12 olive stimulator with a beadhead hares ear dropper and a mercury black beauty. The black beauty accounted for one additional fish, and the hares ear was favored by two to bring my count for the day to eight.
On Thursday I landed four brown trout and four rainbows, and the largest fish to find my net was a nine inch brown trout. In short it was a frustrating day. In three or four extremely enticing deep runs and pools I observed an abundance of fish including many that surely surpassed the size of my nine inch brown. Unfortunately these fish shunned my offerings. I suspect I dwelled too long on pods of unresponsive fish, but other approaches were not providing action, so it was hard to abandon a concentration of visible fish.
30 CFS is relatively low, and the fish demonstrated an above average wariness. The melting snow along the creek probably kept the water temperature below the normal feeding range, and other than some midges, I did not observe any significant source of food. Eight fish in three hours is respectable, but the size was below average, and I covered a large amount of stream mileage to achieve mediocre results. Perhaps a warming trend will increase the metabolism of the South Boulder Creek trout, before I visit the nearby stream again.
Fish Landed: 8