Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM
Location: East of Pinecliffe, CO
Flows on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir were 7 CFS; however, upstream of the dam they were 54 CFS. After driving for 2.5 hours to the Colorado River on Monday I preferred a short local trip on Tuesday. Another factor impacting my decision was the forecast of high temperatures of 67 degrees in Denver, and I assumed that this translated to the fifties in the foothills and mountains. I opted to stay close to home with the unfavorable weather expected.
I arrived at the parking lot in the small town of Pinecliffe by 11AM, and after I strung my Orvis Access four weight, I pulled on my insulated UnderArmour long sleeved undershirt, and then I topped it with my light down coat. I debated wearing my New Zealand billed hat with earflaps, but I concluded that ear coverage was excessive for fifty degree temperatures.
I hiked downstream along the railroad tracks and remained alert for train activity, but fortunately after fifteen minutes I found a somewhat manageable path down the steep bank to the creek. I slid slowly in the loose gravel, until I negotiated the upper one-third. Train traffic was not part of my late morning experience.
The creek where I began my day was characterized by a high gradient, large plunge pools, and huge boulders. Wading was extremely challenging, and I began with a yellow fat Albert, ultra zug bug, and a hares ear nymph. During the first hour I landed three relatively small rainbow trout, and I donated the ultra zug bug and hares ear to an evergreen branch. The trout came from the lip of pools, and imparting a lift to make another cast seemed to prompt takes, although many areas appeared to be particularly attractive yet failed to produce. Over the course of the day I never established consistency in terms of productive water type.
After lunch I hooked a trout near the opposite bank, and inexplicably the ultra zug bug and salvation nymph broke away from the fat Albert. I used the need to re-rig as an excuse to try some solo dry fly offerings, and I cycled through a Jake’s gulp beetle, size 16 gray deer hair caddis, and a parachute black ant. None of these flies generated more than a perfunctory look, so I reverted to a dry/dropper featuring a red hippy stomper, an ultra zug bug, and a salvation nymph. These three flies remained on my line until three o’clock, and they lifted the fish count to ten. One trout crushed the hippy stomper, but the rest grabbed the nymphs. The salvation was the favorite, and lifts and swings seemed to enhance the interest level of the fish. This string of netted fish included two plump rainbows in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and these were easily the best fish of the day.
By 3PM I reached a long deep pool next to a large flat-topped rock, and I remembered it as a prime fish holding location from my one prior visit to the stream near Pinecliffe. I flicked some casts along the rock wall, and this generated a pair of refusals. I was concerned that the red body color of the hippy stomper caused the rejections, so I replaced it with a dubbed peacock body version. The change made no difference, so I moved to another large quality pool that was ten yards upstream.
This area offered the benefit of being in the sun. I lobbed some casts to the left side of the strong center current, and I spotted several trout, as they elevated to inspect the hippy stomper, but I was unable to provoke a strike. Clearly these fish were looking toward the surface for their meal, and they totally ignored the nymphs. I cycled through a series of single dry flies including Jake’s gulp beetle and a parachute black ant. The visible fish ignored both flies, so I tested a parachute green drake. This large mayfly actually generated a pair of refusals, but again I was unable to close the deal. Perhaps the South Boulder Creek residents were looking for a smaller mayfly? I swapped the green drake for a size 16 gray comparadun, and this pale morning dun copy fooled a small rainbow to bring my fish count to ten for the day.
I was satisfied with my hard earned accomplishment, and I waded back to the lower pool with the intent of quitting. Before I stepped up the bank, I scanned the pool and noticed a pair of rises at the tail below the long rock. I unhooked the comparadun and flicked two downstream casts to the vicinity of the rises. On the second drift a mouth emerged, and it chomped down on the mayfly imitation, and I landed a feisty brown trout. I carefully released my late catch, and turned my attention back to the pool. Suddenly the area came alive with six rising fish, but I was unable to determine the food source that created the commotion.
It was clearly something small, so I removed the size 16 fly and replaced it with a size 22 CDC blue winged olive. After fifteen casts to several feeders, I fooled a vividly colored rainbow and guided it into my net. The pace of rising fish slowed, and four o’clock appeared on my digital watch, and I was quite chilled while standing in the shade, so I called it a day and returned to the car.
Tuesday was a reasonably successful day, and I was relieved to overcome the difficult wading conditions while toughing out the first chilly outing of the fall season. Two of the twelve landed fish were respectable rainbows, and I fooled two trout with dry flies near the end of the day in the quality pool. These were worthwhile accomplishments. I was unable to discern a water type that produced consistent results, and consequently I never established a steady rhythm. I battled on and posted a reasonably successful day, and for that I am satisfied.
Fish Landed: 12