Time: 10:00AM – 5:00PM
Location: Hiked for 40 minutes and then began above a long small braid. I was approximately 3.5 miles from the trailhead when I quit.
Fish Landed: 38
What can I say about a spectacular day of fly fishing such as I experienced on Thursday, September 10? I am still euphoric now, three days later. I was in a remote location among gorgeous scenery with perfect weather and large quantities of hungry trout with no other human beings present. And what if I were to add that many of the fish were sizable backcountry football shaped rainbows?
Before I visited the Flattops in 2015 I read my posts from my visit in September 2014. I was impressed by the fact that I identified certain water types that produced fish, so I attempted to apply this knowledge to my 2015 South Fork outing. I skipped large sections of wide shallow riffles, and I also abstained from marginal pockets or limited myself to two casts. The strategy was effective as evidenced by my fish count.
The thermometer registered 41 degrees when I pulled into the South Fork trailhead lot at 9AM. I elected to wear a neck gaiter that I pulled up over my ears, and I also tugged my Adidas pullover over my head for added warmth. The pullover did not last more than fifteen minutes, as I walked at a rapid pace and began to perspire quickly despite the cold air temperatures. I stopped and wrapped the arms of the pullover around my waist under my waders, and the Adidas apparel remained in this position for the remainder of the day as the high temperature probably reached the upper sixties.
After a forty minute hike I began fishing at 10AM with a gray pool toy, salvation nymph and dark cahill wet fly. My devoted readers may ask, why a dark cahill wet fly? I decided to experiment with some oldies that I carry around in my fly box. These are flies that I tied many years ago, and I continue to question if they might produce if given an opportunity. I assumed that I had one proven fish catcher on my line in the salvation nymnph, so I was not taking a huge risk. The experiment was largely a bust as the dark cahill did not produce nor did the size 16 amber nymph that I replaced it with. I landed a fish on the salvation nymph while the oldies were attached to my line, so at least I know the fish were eating and preferred a different fly.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NebetmMO7v0/VfYgKCxNA3I/AAAAAAAA31M/dlmNCoHL5jA/s144-c-o/P9100053.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173694408721266″ caption=”Check the Girth on This Fish” type=”image” alt=”P9100053.JPG” ]
Eventually I settled on the subsurface combination of a salvation nymph and a beadhead ultra zug bug. At noon I quit for lunch, and by that time I moved my fish count to ten. Most were small trout, but two were quite nice rainbows that challenged my fish landing capabilities. The third fish of the day was a huge surprise that responded to a backhand lob to some soft water created where the river deflected off a large boulder along the bank. No sooner did the flies hit the deep hole than there was a large bulge. At first I thought the fish took the pool toy, and then I conjectured that I foul hooked it, as it refused the top fly. But once I slid the rainbow into my net I could see that it had the salvation nymph it its lip. Another of the first four trout was a feisty thirteen inch cutbow.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Xp9wHb9iYbM/VfYgKvEIA_I/AAAAAAAA31U/h8_cD9XSrVY/s144-c-o/P9100054.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173706299245554″ caption=”Salvation Nymph Did Its Job” type=”image” alt=”P9100054.JPG” ]
The morning water presented a lot of wide shallow stream real estate, so I believe that my selective approach enabled me to be efficient and thus move my fish count to ten earlier than previous visits to the South Fork. Midway through the morning I was having significant difficulty following the pool toy in the shadows and glare created by the low sun in the eastern sky. Also the pool toy was a carryover from the one I used on Wednesday, and it was somewhat mangled and rode very low in the water. I used this as an opportunity to switch it for a chubby Chernobyl as the top fly, and this exchange solved the visibility problem for awhile.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Tv3molidHOY/VfYgM6rzyqI/AAAAAAAA31s/66vPICFY_Og/s144-c-o/P9100057.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173743778220706″ caption=”And One More” type=”image” alt=”P9100057.JPG” ]
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9-aaboB2UB8/VfYgOQY3jaI/AAAAAAAA318/bIqyaUfePVI/s144-c-o/P9100059.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173766784224674″ caption=”Lots of Flesh on This Fish” type=”image” alt=”P9100059.JPG” ]
After lunch I picked up a few more small fish, but the lighting improved, and I converted to a tan pool toy along with the salvation nymph and a beadhead ultra zug bug. These flies were the workhorse imitations for most of the afternoon and accounted for the bulk of my catch. There was a period in the middle of the afternoon when I lost the ultra zug bug, so I tried a size 18 beadhead pheasant tail as my point fly. This fly became a hot item as I landed five straight fish, and it actually outperformed the salvation. Two of the pheasant tail consumers were substantial fish in the 15-16 inch range.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dQg-Ym7qz7w/VfYgPBJFuQI/AAAAAAAA32M/hr8rOAuJxsw/s144-c-o/P9100060.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173779871381762″ caption=”Pretty Catch Stretched Out” type=”image” alt=”P9100060.JPG” ]
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ri9QpSE30JA/VfYgP3dpDeI/AAAAAAAA32I/oKXWn6rASqs/s144-c-o/P9100061.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173794453097954″ caption=”Longer Than the Net Opening” type=”image” alt=”P9100061.JPG” ]
The last hour was fairly slow until I foul hooked a missile of a fish before 5PM. I fought the streaking fish up and down the river on all sides until I finally leveraged it to the surface and learned that it was foul hooked in the cheek. I struggled to hoist the sizable rainbow within fifteen feet of my position, and then a bad knot gave way, and I lost all three flies. This made my decision easy, and I quit for the day.
Just as I experienced last September, long deep riffles and deep pockets produced fish. The bigger fish tended to emerge from prime lies near the bank. Thirty-eight fish is a big number, but more impressive was the size of the fish. At least eight of the fish that visited my net were in the 14-17 inch size range, and they were well fed judging from their width to length ratio. It was an amazing day. One of the big fish took the pool toy, but the salvation and pheasant tail were the most desirable flies for the bruisers. I probably lost two or three additional large fish in the similar size range, but my landing performance was clearly superior to that of 2014.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mZ6Gy4oaP34/VfYgQvMNS1I/AAAAAAAA32U/j6oamcDqsCU/s144-c-o/P9100062.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173809412361042″ caption=”I Cannot Wait to Fish This” type=”image” alt=”P9100062.JPG” ]
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6Usc4w_tQ-s/VfYgRRUO9pI/AAAAAAAA32g/K5AyGkn9vdg/s144-c-o/P9100063.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173818572830354″ caption=”Big Rainbows Keep Coming” type=”image” alt=”P9100063.JPG” ]
September 10 certainly ranks as one of my best experiences of 2015 if not number one. I’m already planning next year, and I expect to hike even farther and thus skip most of the less desirable morning water. What a day! I exceeded my expectations with significant numbers and many big fish sprinkled in to keep things interesting. If I have a better day than this over the remainder of the season, I am in for a lot of fun.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Mxl56I9n084/VfYgSGVVeTI/AAAAAAAA32k/FALWjVOWg80/s144-c-o/P9100064.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173832804530482″ caption=”Away from the Net” type=”image” alt=”P9100064.JPG” ]
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xFB8-87yr_c/VfYgS_g0mcI/AAAAAAAA32s/WRoxm-vtznA/s144-c-o/P9100065.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/09102015SouthForkWhiteRiver#6194173848153528770″ caption=”Vivid Spots and Stripe” type=”image” alt=”P9100065.JPG” ]