Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Location: Below Gross Reservoir
A warming trend exemplified by highs in the mid to upper sixties in Denver, CO had me itching for another fly fishing outing on Friday, October 19. I performed a long overdue assessment of the local streamflows, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that South Boulder Creek flows were augmented from 8 CFS to 14.4 CFS. The increase occurred two days earlier, and this provided ample time for the resident trout to acclimate. I knew from visits in previous years that 14.4 CFS represented an adequate level for successful fly fishing. The high temperature in the nearby town of Pinecliffe, CO was projected to reach the mid fifties on Friday, and the alignment of improved volumes of water, tolerable temperatures, and my desire to fly fish resulted in a trip to South Boulder Creek.
On Friday morning I drove to the upper parking lot and quickly pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight. My physical therapist suggested that I should resume casting with my index finger on top of the rod grip, as I was complaining of increased discomfort on the ulna side of the elbow. I was a bit concerned about this change, while at the same time I was anxious to give it a test, since my accuracy is greater, when my index finger points at the target.
Once I gathered all the necessary gear, I descended the steep trail to the creek, and I stood in the water ready to cast by 11AM. I began my day with a peacock ice dub body hippy stomper, and within ten minutes I registered two small brown trout. I was rather pleased with my choice of fly, but I was suspicious that my good fortune would not continue. Quite a bit of the river bed was exposed as a result of the low autumn flows, but many deep pools and runs sluiced around the large visible boulders to provide plenty of fish holding locations.
During the hour before lunch I covered a fair amount of water and built the fish count to ten. After landing three brown trout on the hippy stomper, I concluded that I was passing over quality fish holding locations with no response, so I added a beadhead hares ear nymph, and this improved the catch rate somewhat, although I was not completely satisfied with the action. This statement is actually a testimony to the density of trout in South Boulder Creek, when ten fish an hour is not up to my expectations!
After lunch I resumed my upstream progression, and after another fifteen minutes I hooked an average sized fish, but it escaped before I could guide it into the net. I was surprised by this turn of events, until I realized that the struggling fish broke off the hippy stomper. A small curly end provided proof that my knot was faulty, or that it was nicked or abraded during the earlier action. Rather than replace the hippy stomper and hares ear, I used the lost flies as an excuse to experiment with a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle.
I was quite confident that the small terrestrial would arouse the interest of the trout in the low clear flows of October, but fifteen minutes of futile casting suggested otherwise. I deployed the beetle in three quality pools, and it attracted quite a bit of attention, but something prevented the trout from transforming from observers to eaters.
The ineffectiveness of the beetle forced me to dig into my fly box for another peacock hippy stomper, and I found my last one, and I tied it to my line along with a fresh beadhead hares ear. My hippy stomper inventory contained quite a few silver and red body versions, but the peacock stompers were depleted. With another month of fly fishing remaining in 2018, I may be forced to spend some time at the vise to spin more hippy stompers.
As the sun appeared above me, its warming rays elevated the appetites of the South Boulder Creek residents. I sensed that I was bypassing available feeders, so I added an ultra zug bug below the hares ear, and the three fly combination finally clicked. Between 12:30 and 2:00 the action on South Boulder Creek was insane. Every time I cast to a deep pocket or pool, I expected to connect with a fish, and a high percentage of the time my prediction was correct. In short I enjoyed hot action, and the fish count rapidly mounted through the twenties and thirties. Most of the netted prizes were brown trout in the eight to eleven inch range; however, six rainbows also appeared, and these fish were larger on average than the brown trout.
By 2:30 the action slowed measurably. It was as if someone locked the doors to the cafeteria, and the trailing nymphs were totally ignored. In the shadows along the south bank a couple aggressive feeders burst to the surface to inhale the hippy stomper, and this enabled me to attain a count of forty one on the day. In the process of landing the small fighters, the trout created messy snarls, and since the nymphs were being ignored, I snipped them off. Not wishing to risk the loss of additional peacock body hippy stompers, I replaced it with a silver ice dub body version, but the trout gave this move a solid thumbs down.
At three o’clock I reached a narrow section of the canyon with deep plunge pools, and it was totally ensconced in shadows. Historically this area demarcated my end point, and I saw no reason to vary from this practice on October 19. I stripped in my line and hooked the silver hippy stomper to the rod guide and scaled a steep bank covered in a jumble of large boulders, until I was on the trail. During my return hike I paused at two quality locations to execute a few casts, and the brief rest stops produced two small brown trout to boost the fish counter to forty-two. The first brown crushed the silver hippy stomper and the second sipped a size 16 gray deer hair caddis, when I presented it on a downstream drift. Three fish refused the same caddis earlier in the tail of the pool.
What a fantastic day on South Boulder Creek!. I was extremely excited to discover the flows were raised to 14.4 CFS, and my Friday adventure did not disappoint. I saw two other anglers on my hike to the creek, but the four hours on the stream felt as if I had my own private stretch of water. The sun raised the air temperature to a comfortable level, and the residents of South Boulder Creek were hungry and willing to grab my offerings. Admittedly I experienced a significant number of refusals, but more than enough willing eaters compensated for the the picky ones. Roughly one-third of the netted fish opted for the hippy stomper, while another third snatched the ultra zug bug, and the remainder nabbed the hares ear. The period between 12:30PM and 2:00PM was spectacular, as trout after trout aggressively pursued my offerings, and I could bank on a hit on nearly every cast. Hopefully the water managers maintain the flows in the current range, and additional warm autumn days allow me to revisit South Boulder Creek.
Fish Landed: 43