Time: 5:00PM – 7:00PM
Location: From below footbridge upstream
Fish Landed: 3
Tuesday proved to be a gorgeous day in Denver, and I was at a good pausing point at work, so I decided to leave early and make my first evening fishing venture of 2014. By the time I left work, returned home, packed my gear and drove to South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir; it was 5PM. Traffic was heavy on westbound I70 resulting in an extra fifteen minutes of drive time. In addition, as I drove west I noticed some dark gray clouds hovering over the front range. I chose to place a positive spin on the weather and told myself that some overcast skies and light rain would probably translate to improved fishing.
There were three or four additional cars in the parking lot, so I didn’t have the space to myself, and three young fishermen were stringing their rods and close to departing as I climbed into my waders and put together my rod. The threesome headed down the trail ten minutes before me, but when I made my descent down the steep trail to the stream, I came upon them quite quickly as they jumped in the water relatively close to the beginning of the open fishing water.
I hiked past them and continued a half mile or so until I reached the pedestrian bridge, and here I crossed to the southeast side of the creek. The flows were up quite a bit from my previous visit, and when I checked them beforehand on the DWR web site, they were 149 cfs. I knew from a previous trip that I could fish at 180 cfs, but I also realized that this was higher than ideal and would entail tossing a lot of casts along the bank and behind current breaks.
After crossing the bridge, I began hiking up the steep trail that is part of the Walker Ranch Loop, but I veered to the left and followed a fisherman path along the south bank until I reached a very large vertical rock wall. Here I clambered down to the edge of the stream and fed my line through the guides and tied on some flies. To begin, I attached a tan pool toy and below that an emerald caddis pupa and then added a soft hackle emerger. By now it was quite overcast, so I was covering the possibility that the gloomy weather might initiate a blue winged olive hatch or an evening caddis emergence. It was clear that some adverse weather was moving in, and the temperature dropped considerably so I removed my raincoat from my backpack and pulled it on beneath my wader straps mainly to serve as a windbreaker and add a layer of warmth.
Initially I made some downstream casts to some very juicy runs that deflected against the vertical rock wall and gradually covered the water until I rolled out a forty foot cast to a nice current seam where two currents merged. In an instant I saw the pool toy dive and set the hook, but my excitement transitioned to disappointment when I realized that the nice rainbow on the end of my line was foul hooked. After another ten minutes of searching I turned my attention in the opposite direction, and I began prospecting along the left bank and moved upstream covering the forty yards of water between my start point and the bridge. This period was characterized as frustrating as I pricked two or three fish along the way and witnessed several refusals of the pool toy. I was attracting the interest of fish, but I was unable to fulfill my goal of putting some weight in my net.
During this period I somehow broke off the soft hackle emerger, so I decided to replace it with a beadhead hares ear nymph. I wasn’t seeing any natural BWO’s in the air, and given the higher flows, I felt more confident having a larger fly that the fish could see. This seemed to help my plight and after making the change I hooked and landed a small rainbow that struck the emerald caddis pupa. I continued above the bridge and in the next nice stretch of water before a thunderous whitewater chute, I hooked and landed another rainbow on the emerald caddis. I would eventually discover that this fish was the nicest fish of the evening, and I snapped a photo while I held the catch above the stream.
It was right around this time that some rain began to fall, and I was quite pleased that I already had my rain jacket in place to keep me warm and protect me from the moisture. The next 45 minutes or so prior to quitting were spent working my way upstream along the left bank. It seemed like the quality of the water and my approach should have been producing more action, but unfortunately this was not the case. While I was fishing the water closer to the bridge, two of the young fishermen that left the parking lot ahead of me passed me on the path along the left bank.
I managed to land one more eight inch rainbow in the last 45 minutes, and this fish struck the hares ear as I gave it a lift next to a large submerged rock, but even repeating this technique that worked once didn’t seem to increase the interest of the fish in my offerings. By seven PM I was feeling quite chilled; mainly my feet that were constantly submerged in the ice cold flows from the bottom release dam, so I decided to begin my outbound hike. As I climbed up the bank to the path I noticed several wet imprints in the gravel, so I began to suspect that the young fishermen had gone ahead of me and covered the water that I was now exiting from. I’m not suggesting that they crowded my space, but it’s always difficult to be the second fisherman through water that was recently covered by others. Fish go on high alert and procure more secure positions. The basic need of safety supersedes the other primary need of food.
I completed the vigorous hike out of the canyon and packed my gear and made the drive back to my home where Jane and I grabbed a quick bite at Burger Works. It wasn’t an extremely productive outing, but it was enjoyable to get out on a weeknight. I had quite a few opportunities to catch more fish, and as always I was alone with my thoughts and challenged trying to solve the riddle of how to entice small trout to eat imitations that I created myself. There may not be many more opportunities before the full force of the heavy snow pack rushes down the streams of Colorado.