Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Eleven Mile Canyon
I arrived next to the South Platte River on Thursday, April 19 eager to enjoy another fun day of fly fishing in Colorado. The air temperature was in the low forties, and a mild breeze kicked up from time to time to make it feel cooler. I wore my brimmed New Zealand hat with ear flaps and a fleece layer and light down on top. During my five hours on the water the sun appeared frequently, but high thin clouds prevented the air temperature from rising above the low fifties. The river was in spectacular condition, and the reported flows on the DWR web site were 62 CFS.
I anticipated a blue winged olive hatch, but it was a bit early for that at 11AM, so I defaulted to my favorite prospecting configuration. I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line as a large visible surface attractor, and beneath the foam floater I added a beadhead hares ear. I cast this double to some very attractive deep runs and pockets, but after four such attempts to attract fish, I remained scoreless on the fish counter. This was very unusual for the stretch of water that I was stationed in, so I decided to add a second dropper to provide more length and weight. I chose an emerald caddis pupa for this chore. I reasoned that the bright emerald color would attract attention, and the size 14 fly with a bead would provide additional ballast for a faster sink rate.
The tactic worked, and over the one hour time period between my start and lunch I landed four fine trout in the eleven to twelve inch range. One was a rainbow and the other three displayed the buttery gold color of brown trout. Number two smashed the fat Albert, and the other three snatched the beadhead hares ear nymph.
Although four fish per hour is a satisfying catch rate, I felt like I was casting to numerous productive spots without results. After lunch I continued and landed fish at a similar pace while covering a fair amount of real estate. In the early afternoon I spotted a few random blue winged olives, but their presence did not seem to provoke any surface feeding, so I exchanged the emerald caddis pupa for a size 20 RS2 with a tiny silver bead. I was very optimistic that the diminutive fly would interest stream residents, that were chasing active baetis nymphs, but that was not the case.
After a reasonable trial period I removed the RS2 and replaced it with an ultra zug bug. The zug bug produced one fish, while the hares ear remained the dominant offering, but I continued to sense that I was bypassing fish that were ignoring my flies. At two o’clock I hooked the three flies on a dead branch on a backcast and snapped them off at a leader knot above the fat Albert. I stared at the bare branches for five minutes before I finally spotted the dangling yellow fat Albert, and this enabled me to recover all three flies. As I reattached the flies, I decided to once again replace the bottom fly. I swapped the ultra zug bug for a salvation nymph.
Perhaps it was the fly change, or maybe the time of day, or perhaps the type of water; but suddenly the fishing action was torrid. I began to land trout at a feverish pace, and shallow riffles of moderate depth were the premier trout producers. Unlike past experiences later in the season the trout were not as spread out to locations such as short pockets, but longer deep pockets produced as well as slack water that bordered deep fast runs. The most dependable spots were the deep slots at the end of slow moving troughs, where two currents merged and formed a V.
Needless to say I had a blast. I employed my favorite technique of rapid fire casts to target areas, and in the rare instance where there was no response after three drifts, I moved on. I made long upstream casts to the top of moderate depth riffles, and frequently the fat Albert stopped dead in its tracks, whereupon I raised the rod tip and felt the throb of a nice twelve or thirteen inch brown trout. My confidence elevated, and I could almost predict each strike.
The fast paced action continued from two o’clock until four o’clock, as I boosted the fish count to thirty-one. It was simply a matter of finding the right type of water, and the fish took care of the rest. During the two hour afternoon window I estimate that 60% of the trout favored the salvation and the remainder chomped the hares ear. In fact the salvation nymph accounted for so many trout, that the thread was severed and began to unravel thus requiring a replacement.
The anticipated baetis hatch never materialized, but it did not matter. I never complain when the fish prefer a larger fly with enhanced hooking capability. Thursday was my first thirty fish day of the new season, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Hopefully there are a few more in my future before the impact of run off becomes a factor.
Fish Landed: 31