Time: 10:30AM – 6:00PM
Location: Sleepy Cat Ponds area and Himes Peak Campground area
Fish Landed: 27
I got an early start on the day Monday as I needed to build in a plan to drive to Meeker to buy a new net. Meeker is 32 miles downstream from the North Fork Campground via a twisty road. I found an Ace Hardware store that had a sign for fishing and hunting supplies, and found an Eagle Claw net that I liked. Unfortunately it had an elastic strap to wear across ones shoulder, so I also bought a quick release fastener that would allow me to release the net from my retractor.
Since I was in the downstream area, I scoped out fishing in the town of Meeker, but didn’t care for the character of the water. I then checked out some additional public access points listed in my Colorado fishing book, but none of them appealed to me either. I decided to stop at the Sleepy Cat Ponds and fish the river where it flows past the ponds. I fished this stretch for an hour. There was a nice deep run on the other side of the ponds, and I worked this with the Letort hopper and beadhead hares ear, but had no success. The next attractive water was a wide deep pool, and I covered this with the hopper/dropper rig. I caught one small rainbow too small to count. When I got to the top of the water, I clipped off the hopper dropper and tied on an olive woolly bugger with a black tail. I swung this through the big deep pool from top to bottom, but met with no success.
I moved back down to the nice deep run where I had started and cast and stripped the bugger through this water as well. When that didn’t work, I went to a nymphing rig with a prince nymph and beadhead hares ear, but this was equally unproductive. At around 11:30AM I decided to give up on the big water, and head to the upper North Fork of the White River at Himes Peak, not far below Trappers Lake. I remembered fishing this stretch a number of years ago and doing quite well with attractor flies.
When I arrived at Himes Peak after a 40 mile drive, the parking lot was crawling with hunters wearing orange coats and orange hats. I was actually a bit concerned that with my subdued clothing, I might be mistaken for game prowling the streamside. I quickly ate my lunch and hiked down the trail that led to the North Fork. I noticed a significant number of blow downs, dead trees that had blown down across the stream.
I removed the nymphs I’d experimented with on the lower river, and tied on the bushy caddis that had brought me refusals on Sunday. My thought was that these fish would be more receptive to the high floating caddis fly. I worked my way upstream and landed the first five trout on the bushy caddis. Two were brook trout and the others rainbows. It was another blue sky almost cloudless day with temperatures probably peaking in the mid to high seventies. I lost the bushy caddis on a tree branch, so looked through my cylindrical box of attractors and pulled out a wulff style fly with a red body. I landed a couple rainbows on the wulff, but it wasn’t producing to my satisfaction in some very attractive fishy spots, so I removed it and tied on a Chernoyl ant with a beadhead hares ear dropper. I love the Chernobyl for this type of fishing because its foam construction allows it to float without false casting. I can just flip the flies ahead into likely lies and cover a lot of stream.
As it turned out, this combination was a major producer. Up until the last hour, I landed another 17 trout on the Chernobyl/BHHE combination. From 2-4, the Chernobyl was attracting fish, and then from 4-5 the beadhead hares ear kicked in and became the top producer. I’m not sure if it was a function of the time of day, or whether I was moving further away from the campground, but the fishing got very hot between 2:30 and 3:30. The rainbows were surprisingly nice fish averaging 10-12 inches and quite chunky.
Action slowed in the last hour so I switched to an olive caddis and managed to land one on that offering. Between 5 and 6 some a nice little hatch of small mayflies took place. I tied on a light gray comparadun and landed a brook trout and cutbow in a little pool where I spotted a few rises.