Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Location: Canyon below Gross Reservoir
A day of frustration on Friday on the Arkansas River and a forecast of more adverse weather on Wednesday and Thursday fueled my desire to enjoy some fly fishing on Monday and Tuesday. I followed the flows on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir since my trip to the Green River, and I was pleased to note that the water managers maintained the output at 122 CFS for six consecutive days. I love steady flows, and 122 CFS is higher than my ideal range, but very manageable.
I arrived at the upper parking lot with the kayak map on Monday morning and quickly pulled on my new Hodgman waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight rod. The temperature was fifty degrees, and I planned to walk a decent distance, so I wrapped my fleece around my waist under my waders and departed with only my fishing shirt over a long sleeved insulated undershirt. By the time I negotiated the trail and rigged my line, I was positioned in the creek at 11AM. I began fishing with a peacock hippy stomper, beadhead hares ear nymph, and ultra zug bug.
I did not have to wait for my first action, as a rainbow grabbed the ultra zug bug on my first cast. I was very pleased with this turn of events, and I continued to deliver drifts through the gut of the small deep pool, until I notched five landed trout! Needless to say my optimism spiked, and for the most part it was well founded. By the time I rested on a small beach to eat my lunch at noon, the fish count mounted to ten. I adopted a nice rhythm and flicked casts into all the likely fish holding spots, and the trout cooperated. The ultra zug bug was very popular in the morning hour, and a couple fish snatched the hares ear.
My undershirt and fishing shirt were damp with perspiration from the hike into the canyon, so after lunch I unwrapped my fleece and pulled it over my upper body. This step helped, but a slight chill prompted me to add my rain shell to serve as a windbreaker. These moves reversed the cooling effect of evaporation, and I was reasonably comfortable for the remainder of the day. Between 12:15PM and 2:00PM I continued with the three fly dry/dropper system, although right after lunch I exchanged the hippy stomper for a size 10 Chernobyl ant. The hippy stomper was simply serving as an indicator, and I opted for a larger more buoyant and visible top fly to support the trailing nymphs. The fish count continued to climb at a steady rate during the early afternoon, and the trouts’ preference seemed to shift away from the ultra zug bug to the hares ear.
At one o’clock I heard the sound of distant thunder, and it grew progressively closer as some dark gray clouds rolled in from the southwest. The dim light created a glare on the surface of the water, and I found it difficult to track the small yellow foam indicator spot on the Chernobyl ant. My confidence plummets, when I am unable to see the top fly under poor lighting conditions. A bolt of lightening spiked from the dark cloud in the southeastern sky, and I counted to one thousand and seven, until I heard the resultant thunder clap. I decided to seek shelter and found a small nook under a ledge rock, where I relaxed and waited out the storm. After fifteen minutes the thunder and lightening ceased, and the rain abated, and I resumed my fly fishing mission. As I waited for a break, I swapped the Chernobyl ant for a yellow fat Albert to counter the dim lighting and glare created by the cloudy conditions.
I applied the same technique to the afternoon that generated success in the morning, and although the pace of action lagged slightly, I still guided a substantial quantity of trout into my net and boosted the count from ten to twenty-six. One fish crushed the Chernobyl ant before I removed it, and two slurped the fat Albert, while the remainder grabbed one of the trailing nymphs. The ultra zug bug seemed to fall out of favor, so I replaced it with a bright green sparkle caddis pupa for the last twenty minutes before I quit at 3PM.
I began my hike back to the parking lot, but when I approached a favorite pool at the halfway point, I spotted a pod of rising fish. I could not resist the challenge of fishing to risers, so I clipped off the dry/dropper flies and knotted a size 24 CDC BWO to my line. I was unable to see the target food of the surface feeders, but I guessed that the cloudy conditions created a sparse baetis hatch. Initially I endured four refusals, but then I fluttered a longer cast to the upper third of the pool, and an eleven inch brown trout darted up and sipped the fake BWO. I photographed my late prize and then worked diligently to dry the small mayfly and fluff the CDC wing. After some careful preparation, I dropped another cast in the vicinity of the rising fish, and a ten inch rainbow darted up and confidently inhaled the speck of fluff. Once again I refreshed the fly, and I generated a temporary hook up. At this point the hatch dwindled, or I disturbed the pool excessively, so I hooked the fly to my rod guide and reeled up the line and continued to the car.
Monday was a fun day, as I worked the dry/dropper system extensively. The trout emerged, where I expected them to, and the standard hares ear and ultra zug bug performed the heavy lifting. I estimate that 70% of my catch were brown trout, and the remainder were rainbows. The rainbows and browns of South Boulder Creek are spectacular with distinct black spots and vivid colors. My largest fish was probably thirteen inches, and most of the landed fish were in the eight to eleven inch range, so size was not a positive for the day, but I had a great time nonetheless. Hopefully the flows will continue at the current level, so that I can make another trip to South Boulder Creek before the run off season kicks in for good.
Fish Landed: 28