South Boulder Creek – 05/26/2017

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Canyon below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 05/26/2017 Photo Album

Although I enjoyed a seasonally adjusted stellar day of fishing on Friday, May 26, it seemed that the scenery and smells of spring made the more significant impression on my brain. After a decent day on the Big Thompson River on Thursday, I revisited the DWR web site, and I was surprised but not shocked to learn that the flows on South Boulder Creek dropped from 66 cfs to 16 cfs. Denver water seems to use South Boulder Creek as its balancing tool, as it attempts to offset natural fluctuations from other South Platte River tributaries. For this reason I was not stunned by the sharp reduction.

15.6 cfs is low, however, I decided to make the trip anyway, since the location and hike into the canyon are spectacular regardless of the state of the fishing. I arrived at the parking lot near the dam by 10:30, and only one other vehicle was present. I strung my Loomis two piece five weight, climbed into my waders, and stuffed my lunch in my backpack; and I decided I was ready to go. The air temperature was a chilly 46 degrees, so I wrapped my fleece around my waist under my waders, and I stuffed my raincoat in my pack along with the lunch items. This afforded me the option of adding layers after the strenuous hike, and the dark gray clouds in the western sky suggested that additional clothing might be required.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PxeqqbbxhJ4/WSnO-Lo-9DI/AAAAAAABKK0/NzwfDl1GsJck1B3C3mJ9x0DBqbVAhZDtwCCo/s144-o/P5260001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893911092622386″ caption=”Low and Murky in May 26″ type=”image” alt=”P5260001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I descended the steep path and approached the edge of the creek, I was surprised to note that the stream was off colored even though I was less than .5 below the dam. Heavy rain pounded our house in Denver on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, so I assumed that a similar event caused a flush of sediments from the nearby small feeders thus causing the murky conditions. Despite the unexpected coloration, I surmised that the clarity remained within a range that would support decent fishing. The milky olive color reminded me of the normal appearance of Pennsylvania limestone spring creeks.

After a decent walk to distance myself from the most pressured section above the first pedestrian bridge, I found an attractive stretch, and I cut down the bank toward the creek. Before embarking on my fishing adventure, however, I stopped by a large rock and consumed my small lunch while observing the water. The stream at this location continued to display the milky olive coloration, and the air appeared to be absent of any significant insect emergence. A stiff breeze blew down the canyon off and on, so after lunch I extracted my fleece and raincoat and pulled them on over my fishing shirt. I fished until 3:30 with these layers, and I was comfortable the entire time. The sun made sporadic brief appearances, but the duration of the solar generator was never long enough to create a warming effect.

My quest for trout began with a size 14 stimulator with a peacock body, and a small trout flashed to the attactor pattern twice within the first five minutes, but each time it turned away at the last minute. I refer to this snub as a refusal. I exchanged the peacock body version for a gray imitation of the same size, and it failed to attract even a look. Perhaps the clouded water dictated a larger dark fly? I converted to a Chernobyl ant trailing a bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a RS2. Finally after at least a half hour of fruitless casting, I induced a small brown trout to snatch the go2 pupa. I endured another lengthy lull of fruitless casting, and I spotted a few blue winged olives in the air. Finally the size 20 RS2 earned its keep when another small brown nabbed the RS2, but I was frustrated by the lack of action despite covering some attractive water. Compounding my waning confidence in the dry/dropper was the ongoing observation of refusals to the leading Chernobyl.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bYVWRjE3Aoo/WSnPAKESaHI/AAAAAAABKK0/ucmtqpvpVXkTbyWkJMev31ZPMUxJsJ0bwCCo/s144-o/P5260005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893945030010994″ caption=”Savoring the Beetle” type=”image” alt=”P5260005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zny-TWLNMpw/WSnPAjD2c5I/AAAAAAABKK0/i9NVd1qPVVYfsRBcGPLfKtjAMOzDRIffACCo/s144-o/P5260006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893951739065234″ caption=”Seems a Beetle Adorns This Brown Trout’s Upper Lip” type=”image” alt=”P5260006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The fish were looking toward the surface for their meal, and the Chernobyl attracted them, but something was amiss. I resorted to my usual ploy, when I encounter Chernobyl refusals, and I switched to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. This proved to be a magical tactical shift, as eight fish crushed the beetle between 1 and 3PM. The response was not overwhelming, and finding beetle loving fish required covering a significant amount of water, but darting sips occurred frequently enough to retain my interest. I attempted to diagnose the type of water that yielded fish, but a pattern was difficult to discern. Very deep slower moving pools and large pockets were definitely not fish producers, and I began to skip over those spots.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Wnc5B-eGu8c/WSnPBJ_9drI/AAAAAAABKK0/0rCf9taU7skFGtPbV3nnNh9lBtfjwd-hwCCo/s144-o/P5260007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893962191730354″ caption=”A Rainbow Joins the Count” type=”image” alt=”P5260007.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 3 o’clock the fish counter climbed to ten, and since I reached double digits, I decided to experiment with a different approach. I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line as the surface indicator fly, and beneath it I added the bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a size 14 chartreuse copper john. The move paid dividends, when I landed three brown trout from a deep seam, and the last fish of the day grabbed the sparkle pupa in some riffles at the head of a deep run. Three of the dry/dropper victims chose the go2 pupa, and one nipped the copper john. This success caused me to question whether I should have applied the fat Albert dry/dropper approach earlier, but the quick success ended, and I endured another twenty minutes of futile casting in some very attractive segments of water.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-P_n3mdSSU1s/WSnP10vlCFI/AAAAAAABKMM/BU47MQ-11EAVySscTfMU5ViZjjA3Iw6VgCCo/s144-o/P5260016.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424894867018942546″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5260016.MOV” image_size=”1920×1080″ ]

By 3:30 I was suffering through the aforementioned slump, and I was quite weary from the long walk, so I began my strenuous return hike. During my 3.5 hours on South Boulder Creek I did not see another fisherman, and I was lost in my thoughts. Focusing on what techniques will fool wild trout in the midst of a spectacular wilderness while standing in an ice cold stream is what I will remember about Friday May 26. It was a great day to live in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 14

2 thoughts on “South Boulder Creek – 05/26/2017

  1. I was on the same stream area the next day (Saturday AM), and the water flow had increased to 30 CFM and rising to 45 CFM over the next 3 hours. The interested fish were sparse, and only a size 12 very skinny stone fly with floppy legs got any attention – and only on the bottom of the deepened areas around the mid-stream boulders. I have always been surprised that Denver water is able to go below the “historical flow” in the early Spring and then blast the canyon for weeks when they apparently misjudge run-off. You’d think they’re trying to kill off the bug life and deplete the fishery in the canyon below their proposed and higher risk dam. Thanks for the great reports.

    • Jim – Thanks for that update. I am also frustrated by the wild gyrations of South Boulder Creek. It has the potential to be a great fishery, but the yoyo stream management is very frustrating. The last couple years they ran flows over 200 for most of the prime fishing time of August and September. There are green drake hatches there in August, but I miss out on them because the flows are so high and I opt for other streams with more favorable flows. Oh well. Thanks for checking in. Dave

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