Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM
Location: Below Gross Reservoir
Yet another mild fall day in Colorado motivated me to load the car with my fishing gear in preparation for a local fishing trip. Wednesday November 22 was a day to cherish for another reason unrelated to the weather. My son, Dan, claimed a rare vacation day from work and agreed to join me on a venture to South Boulder Creek. I regularly updated him with tales of my fishing success on the small front range tailwater, and he agreed to join me for a late season adventure.
We arrived at the kayak parking lot below Gross Reservoir, and by the time I assembled my rod and climbed into my waders and hiked a fair distance from the parking lot, we began casting at 11AM. Dan and I both began with a Jake’s gulp beetle on our line, and that was probably not smart given our opportunity to present two different food imitations. Within twenty minutes Dan connected with a nice eleven inch trout, when he flicked a fairly long cast to a narrow pocket along the right bank. After the beetle drifted six inches, the head of a brown trout appeared, and it confidently chomped on the fake terrestrial. I was thrilled to watch, as Dan reacted with a swift hook set and then expertly guided his catch to his net. It was a great start to a fun day on South Boulder Creek.
We continued fishing for the first hour, and I endured quite a few refusals to my beetle, until I finally hooked and landed a small brown trout that stretched slightly beyond my six inch minimum requirement for counting. Dan, meanwhile, enjoyed a bit more success, as he built his fish count to two, before we paused for lunch in an area bathed in sunlight on the bank high above the creek.
After lunch I concluded that the beetle no longer possessed the fish attracting charm, that it exhibited earlier in the fall, so I swapped it for a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. The change was somewhat beneficial, and I enticed two additional small brown trout to my net. Dan added a third trout to his cumulative tally with the beetle, and then after witnessing my moderate success with the caddis, he followed suit.
By two o’clock the stream was almost entirely covered in shadows, and this condition translated to difficulty tracking the small size 16 fly. Dan progressed upstream along the right bank which remained in sunshine. After several hours of fishing I concluded that most of our success originated in slow pools along the rocky bank. The faster runs and pockets in the middle of the creek were not productive unlike my earlier trips to the same section of the stream. With this observation described to Dan, he approached a very nice long narrow pool along the right bank that matched the description of attractive water.
He placed a nice cast to the top of the gently flowing trough, and after a five foot drift his caddis sank, and Dan alertly spotted a subsurface flash. He reacted with a quick hook set and quickly netted fish number four. I was quite impressed that Dan’s fly fishing skills advanced to the point, where he reacted to a subtle take below the surface. Once he released his recent catch and refreshed his caddis dry fly, he placed a similar cast upstream in the same area but closer to the large rock along the bank. An instant replay resulted, when another brown trout snatched the caddis just after it dipped beneath the surface near the streamside boulder.
We resumed our upstream migration and approached a spot where a nice deep run cut down the center of the creek and then split around a large rock that was mostly submerged, except for the small round top that poked above the water. Dan spotted a rise in the swirly current just above the rock, so I targeted that area with my casts. Unfortunately the caddis did not appeal to the riser, so I decided to experiment with a size 18 cinnamon comparadun. I quickly made the change and executed five nice drifts along the current seam, but again the cagey feeder refused to be fooled. What would cause this recalcitrant stream dweller to eat?
I decided to make a last ditch effort with a dry/dropper approach, and I knotted a hippy stomper with a red body to the end of my leader and then added a beadhead hares ear on an eighteen foot dropper to the bend of the foam top fly. As Dan looked on, I lobbed the two fly combination to the scene of the single rise, and after a two foot drift the hippy stomper dipped, and I connected with a ten inch brown trout. Dan was impressed with the instant success, and I was appropriately inspired by this late good fortune.
Dan stashed his backpack downstream at our lunch spot, so he decided to embark on a retrieval mission, while I continued to evaluate the effectiveness of the recent shift to a dry/dropper approach. Over the final twenty minutes of my fishing day I landed two more brown trout in the ten to eleven inch range. Number five grabbed the hares ear in a deep slot between two large exposed boulders, and the last landed brown trout smacked the red hippy stomper in a small shelf pool along the left bank. I was pleased with my late burst of success, but three fish in thirty minutes left me pondering whether I should have converted to the dry/dropper system earlier in the day.
Six fish on November 22 was a fine outing, and the setting was glorious. The weather enhanced our enjoyment, and spending 3.5 rare hours with my son on a remote trout stream was an occasion to treasure.
Fish Landed: 6