Time: 11:00AM – 5:30PM
Location: A half hour hike from the parking lot downstream. Open area beyond where the trail forces one to wade the edge due to high vertical rock wall.
Fish Landed: 21
Other than one hour and fifteen minutes on Baker Creek, I did not fish from August 14 through August 25, and I was aching to get on a local stream to satisfy my addiction. I did not want to make a long drive, so I checked the flows on Clear Creek, the Big Thompson, Boulder Creek, and South Boulder Creek. The Big Thompson was relatively low at 50 cfs, and Boulder Creek was running at expected late August levels. I felt that both these options would offer fairly difficult conditions with high temperatures approaching ninety degrees in Denver. Clear Creek was nearly ideal at 80 cfs, but I get frustrated with catching fish in the 6-9 inch range. South Boulder Creek was rushing along at 152 cfs, and that is actually high for the small stream bed in a canyon setting. Denver Water actually dropped the flows to this level three days ago, and before that the stream was surging at 200 cfs. I fished South Boulder Creek in the past at 200 cfs, so I knew 150 was manageable, and I suspected that the fish would be less skittish at levels more typical of early July.
I left the house at 8:50AM and made the short drive to the parking lot on a hill .3 mile past the outlet of Gross Dam. There were three other vehicles in the lot, and another solo fisherman arrived as I was putting on my waders and rigging my Loomis five weight. It was relatively warm as I began my descent to the canyon, so I decided to hike for thirty minutes and then begin fishing. I turned off the Walker Loop trail and followed the fisherman path beyond the talus slope until I reached an open area where I could easily access the water. I read my post from an outing last August 31 on South Boulder Creek, so I used the same flies that performed well a year ago; a Chernobyl ant, a beadhead hares ear, and a salvation nymph.
Between 11AM and 1PM I covered quite a bit of attractive water on South Boulder Creek and landed four trout; one nice brown and three rainbows. Two of the fish smashed the Chernobyl and the others nabbed the salvation as it drifted through some nice runs near rocks. I stopped to eat lunch at 1PM, and then resumed fishing the dry/dropper trio for a half hour in the early afternoon. I added two fish to my total, but it seemed like I was covering some very fishy locations with no action, so I decided to make a change. I noticed one or two green drakes during my hour and a half on the water, so I removed three flies and replaced them with a solitary parachute green drake size 14. This proved to be a huge positive move, and I landed ten additional trout between 1:30 and 3:30.
Some very nice rainbows literally leaped at the green drake, as their momentum carried them above the water when I set the hook. A couple decent browns were in the mix, and I knew that I had a convincing fly on my line, because I observed very few refusals. Unfortunately my most productive parachute drake unraveled after eight fish, so I was forced to replace it with another close copy that was in my front pack. This fly actually had an unraveling thread, but I clipped it back and hoped it would last for a few fish, and that is exactly what transpired. After landing two fish, the hackle unraveled on the second parachute, and the green thread formed a small burr behind the eye of the hook.
I reviewed my front pack and realized that I had only one remaining parachute green drake, and it was a large size 12. Rather than risk refusals on the behemoth, I found a nice size 14 comparadun green drake and attached it to my tippet. This fly produced a fine rainbow on a downstream drift, and then I exited the creek and hiked back down to my starting point. I was searching for an item that I thought I dropped at the start of my day, but it did not appear, so I decided to call it quits.
As I hiked the return trail, I was forced to wade the edge of the creek at the spot where a large vertical wall blocked my land progress. I was about to wade back to the path, but as I gazed upstream at a very nice deep pool, I noticed several rises. Closer inspection revealed some size 18 mayflies fluttering up from the surface, and they reflected a gray hue. I found a gray comparadun in my front pack and knotted it to my line, and this fooled a couple fish in the prime water before me. Unfortunately it was not a perfect match, as I endured quite a few refusals in addition to the landed fish. I suspect that the natural pale morning duns were closer to a size 18, and my imitations were size 16.
Eventually I could not interest the rising fish in my fly, so I hiked back to the pedestrian bridge crossing and then walked up the left side of the creek to the huge long pool that typically attracts hordes of fishermen. There was a gentleman positioned at the tail, so I moved in next to several large boulders at the head of the run. I could see three or four fish in this area, so I began drifting my comparadun over the sighted trout. It took a lot of casting, but I managed to land three more trout from this area to bring my count to 21.
In typical unpredictable South Boulder Creek fashion, I thought I was in for a below average day, but mayflies made a late appearance and converted a mediocre outing to an above average day. Yes, many of the fish were small, but I also managed to landed five or six fish in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and possibly my best fish managed to shed the hook before being introduced to my net. My deep thirst for fly fishing was momentarily quenched, but I’m already planning another adventure.