South Boulder Creek – 09/21/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/21/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I aborted my camping and fishing trip to the Bear River area on Wednesday after four frustrating hours resulted in eight small trout landed. I returned home on Wednesday evening and unpacked all my unused camping gear. I did not, however, unpack my fishing gear, since I now gained a day that could be utilized on a local stream. It did not take much thought to decide to return to South Boulder Creek, the scene of a fabulous day of fishing on Tuesday. The only hindrance to my return was the possibility of an unexpected change in flows from the dam, but when I displayed the DWR web site, 13 CFS appeared behind South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir. This was 2 CFS lower than Tuesday, and I concluded that the stream fishing conditions would be comparable.

The high temperature in Denver for Thursday was projected to reach 87 degrees, and based on this projection I estimated that the air temperature would peak in the canyon in the upper seventies. This was also comparable to the weather during my visit on Tuesday. After I unloaded the camping gear from the car, I reorganized my fishing equipment, and I departed the house a bit after 8AM. After a stop to refuel I was on the road by 8:30, and despite some rush hour traffic snarls, I pulled into the upper parking lot by 9:45. I was the first car in the parking area, so I anxiously pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access rod and began my descent of the steep path to the stream by 10:06. The temperature was in the low sixties, and it was obvious that the first day of autumn was going to be gorgeous.

As usual I hiked a good distance downstream, before I cut to the water. I was so confident that Jake’s gulp beetle would be the preferred fly of the resident trout, that I knotted a size 12 to my line in the parking lot. I unhooked it from the rod guide and anxiously lobbed a couple casts to some small marginal pockets, and a pair of refusals signaled that Thursday might be more challenging than Tuesday. After ten minutes of optimistic casting with no results, I paused and evaluated my options. A spectacular wide smooth pool was located just above my position, and I was certain that it contained several trout. I decided to swap the beetle for another terrestrial, a size 18 black parachute ant. The tiny fly would be visible in the smooth water, and I could flutter it down with a delicate cast.

Before launching a cast to the upstream pool, however, I decided to make a few casts to a nice wide pool and run directly across from me. My third lob fluttered the ant down within a couple feet of the bank, and after it moved a short distance, the bulge of a gulp appeared. I lifted the rod tip and set the hook, and the recipient of the prick streaked upstream and then down. I allowed line to zing from my reel, as the energetic ant sipper registered a few more spurts, and then I gained the upper hand and lifted a spectacular thirteen inch rainbow trout into my net. What a start to my day on South Boulder Creek!

After I snapped a few photos, I turned my attention to the beckoning pool above me. I surveyed the water and spotted a decent trout fining in the current twenty-five feet upstream. I stripped out a large amount of line and executed some false casts to the right, so I would not spook my target with overhead line movement. When I felt I had the correct distance, I shot a cast and checked my rod high, so that the ant fluttered to the surface softly five feet above the sighted fish. I held my breath as the ant slowly drifted three inches to the left of the fish, and then the trout turned and elevated and sipped the terrestrial. It was a text book case of sight fishing and casting accuracy, and I was rewarded with a feisty wild eleven inch brown trout.

I continued my upstream movement and landed two more brown trout on the ant, but then I approached some faster water and deep pockets, and the ant was increasingly difficult to track in the swirling currents. I decided to revert to Jake’s gulp beetle, and the change paid off in a big way. Over the remainder of the first hour I landed five additional trout on the size 12 beetle to move the count to nine, before I paused on a small gravel beach to eat my lunch. Lunch was actually a highlight of the day. The strong sunlight bathed the area in warmth, and I gazed upstream and marveled at the beauty around me. South Boulder Creek tumbled over large boulders, and the small lower level deciduous trees and bushes displayed yellow and faded green colors. Higher up sparse stands of evergreens adorned the arid and rocky canyon walls. I soaked up the sun and took some deep breaths and reveled in my good fortune to be alive in this beautiful place.

After lunch I continued prospecting with Jake’s gulp beetle and built the fish count to twenty-four. At one point during this run, I endured a spate of refusals to the beetle, so I once again knotted the parachute ant to my line, and the move resulted in a couple landed fish. As was the case earlier, however, the characteristics of the stream changed to faster pocket water, and I returned to the beetle. In summary during the morning and early afternoon I landed six trout on a parachute ant and eighteen on the beetle.

By 1:30 I was curious whether a green drake would interest the stream dwellers. It accounted for quite a few fish on Tuesday, so why not experiment with it again on Thursday? The beetle was exchanged for a size 14 ribbed green drake comparadun. Unlike Tuesday, however, the trout did not charge to the surface to inhale my green drake imitation. I did land three fish, but far more fish elevated and inspected the large western green drake and then returned to their holding position. Either I educated the trout on Tuesday, or the green drake hatch was finally fading from their memories.

Once I determined that the green drake was not going to perform to the high standards set on my previous visit, I swapped it for a size 16 light gray comparadun. I observed some smaller mayflies in the air, and clearly the fish were looking up for their meals. Most of the naturals were tiny blue winged olives, but I also spotted some larger mayflies in the mix. My hunch was spot on, and twelve South Boulder Creek residents grabbed the comparadun to raise the fish count to thirty-nine. The comparadun was much more difficult to follow than the huge green drake and the beetle with a bright orange indicator strip, but the trout seemed to recognize it rather easily. I positioned myself for each target area to take advantage of the best light, and this aided my ability to track the fly. I actually cycled through several pale morning comparaduns during this period, as the wear and tear of catching and releasing fish destroyed several models.

Between 3:30 and 4:00 I encountered a series of very deep pockets among very large exposed boulders. Suddenly a smorgasbord of insects appeared including blue winged olives, caddis, tiny yellow and gray stoneflies, and a solitary green drake. The green drake was the only cue I needed, and I knotted the same size 14 comparadun to my line, that I featured earlier. Once again the change was a winner, and I landed three additional trout from the edges of the small deep pockets to finish the day at forty-two.

It was another amazing day on South Boulder Creek. The weather was perfect, and the low flows concentrated the fish in the reduced volume of water. I fished dry flies all day, and achieved success with a variety of offerings. Of course most of the fish were in the typical 7-11 inch range, however, I also netted quite a few chunky twelve and thirteen inch beauties. Only four of the total were rainbows, but two of these were my best fish of the day, as they measured close to fourteen inches. I estimate that at least ten of my catch were husky twelve inch brown trout, and that represents a very nice size for South Boulder Creek.

Fish Landed: 42

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