Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Below Gross Reservoir
I was anxious to revisit South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir, but the Denver Water managers seemed intent on flushing the system, as they maintained flows in the plus 200 cfs range for most of August. I decided to review the flows of the Front Range streams after Labor Day, and I was surprised and pleased to note that South Boulder Creek dropped to 149 cfs, so I quickly decided to make a trip on Wednesday September 7. Imagine my amazement when I rechecked the flows on Tuesday evening and discovered that the managers tightened the valve and dropped releases to 85 cfs. I normally avoid visiting a tailwater after a dramatic change, but I decided to deviate from my rule because the adjustment was a decrease and not a large increment.
In addition to nearly ideal flows on South Boulder Creek the weather was perfect. After I climbed into my waders and assembled my Loomis five weight to begin my descent to the canyon floor, the temperature was in the low sixties. However hiking at a brisk pace and the warmth of the sun kindled my body temperature quickly, and I suspect the high temperature peaked in the upper seventies. My fishing shirt was the appropriate attire for a day when the outside air temperature mirrored the thermostat setting in our house.
Two vehicles were present in the upper lot, and one fisherman departed before I was ready. I hustled and advanced to the trailhead just before the other group of three, so in order to evade the competition, I hiked quite a ways downstream from the pedestrian bridge on the Walker Loop. Once I established my entry point, I tied a pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph to my line. The pool toy from Tuesday was handicapped, as it was missing legs on the right side, so I dug out a fresh version with a tan body. The dry/dropper approach was extremely effective on Tuesday on the South Platte River, so I decided to test its effectiveness on a different stream.
My strategy proved to be a winner, as I worked my way upstream over the course of the day for .5 mile and cast the dry/dropper in all the inviting spots. It was a textbook dry/dropper day, as fish emerged from nearly every location that I expected. I landed nine trout before I broke for lunch at noon, and several were quite nice and at the upper limit of the South Boulder Creek size profile.
After lunch I endured a brief lull, but then the trout really engaged in a feeding frenzy. I actually experienced a double in a narrow riffle lane on the left side of a huge rock. The hopper paused, and I reacted with an abrupt hookset only to discover that an eight inch rainbow grabbed the hares ear, and a small cousin snatched the salvation. This was perhaps the fourth or fifth time in my life that I landed two fish at once.
Between 12:30 and 3:00 I spotted a sparse pale morning dun and blue winged olive emergence; however, I never attempted to fish a dry fly because the nymphs were performing in excellent fashion. I suspect that an abundance of subsurface nymph activity spurred the success of the hares ear and salvation. On the day I landed two or three fish on the pool toy, and the remainder of the count was split 50/50 between the hares ear and salvation.
The hopper, hares ear, and salvation were fixtures on my line for the entire day, and I had a blast. I moved slower than normal, because I wore my Korker rubber soles to hike into the canyon, and the traction is inferior to felt bottoms. I hoped to avoid wear on my felts, and my slow progression was a concession to age and careful foot placement.
Between 12:30 and 3:00 I had supreme confidence in my flies, and it was rare that I did not extract a fish from a location that struck me as promising. Various water types produced including deep runs, pockets, riffles of moderate depth, and even shallow riffles over rocky bottoms. I settled into a nice rhythm, and I relish the times when I enjoy complete confidence in my flies and approach. I cast directly upstream on numerous occasions and allowed the dry/dropper to drift back toward me over relatively shallow riffles. It is difficult to surpass the rush generated when the top fly stops, and a swift lift of the rod reveals a thrashing wild fish. This scenario played out quite often on Wednesday on South Boulder Creek.
The last hour between 3 and 4 slowed considerably, and this suggests that the fish were not opportunistically grabbing my nymphs, but instead the nymphs were a reasonable imitation of a food source present in the creek. On Wednesday evening upon my return home, I checked the flows on South Boulder Creek, and I was shocked to discover that they dropped again to 35 cfs. Judging from my on stream experience, I suspect that this change was engineered after my departure. Somehow I managed to arrive on the creek for the one day of ideal flows. September is off to a spectacular start.
Fish Landed: 35