Time: 8:30AM – 2:00PM
Location: Below Stagecoach Reservoir
Fish Landed: 6
Jane and I accepted an invitation to visit Judy and Steve Supple at their condo in Steamboat Springs for Labor Day weekend. Jane got off work early on Friday, and we drove to Steamboat arriving around 4PM.
On Saturday morning Steve and I planned to fish in the .5 mile special regulation water on the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir. This high quality water gets extremely crowded because of the large fish and short distance of public water. We had a quick breakfast and left the condo by 7AM arriving at the parking lot by 7:30AM. There were already three other cars in the lot so we hustled to put on our waders and rig our rods and hiked down the path to the river. There was only one other fisherman on the water so we snagged the prime run and pool in the middle of the short stretch of water.
I immediately went to a strike indicator with an orange scud and beadhead RS2 and began casting in a nice run on the side of the river near the path. Steve went a bit upstream and began fishing with nymphs as well. After a bit of fishing a chunky 12 inch rainbow hit the orange scud, and I landed it in the chilly early morning. It took awhile for the sun to get above the ridge to the east and warm up the air temperature. Steve had mentioned that the fly shop in town suggested using scuds, but he had forgotten this advice. When I told him I caught the first fish on a scud, he added one to his offering.
I continued prospecting with the nymphs and landed a couple more small rainbows on the RS2 over the next few hours. As the morning progressed and the sun moved higher in the sky I was able to spot nice sized fish on the bottom of the river and sight fish to them. But as I changed offerings nothing seemed to provoke their interest. I spent quite a bit of time fishing to three nice fish in front of me further downstream from my initial position at the base of a nice pool.
I decided to cross over to the opposite bank and work up along that side with a Chernobyl ant and some droppers. By late morning a herd of additional fishermen had arrived and quite a few were above us. I also began to notice occasional blue wing olive size mayflies slowly flying up from the river so I added an orange scud and beadhead RS2 to the Chernobyl ant. Fishing upstream in this fashion I added a couple more rainbows to my count, one taking the RS2 and the fifth of the morning taking the orange scud. The fifth fish was actually the largest of the day and probably measured out at 13 inches and quite chunky. I took a quick photograph of this fish and resumed casting.
I reached a point where there was another fisherman above me working some nice water so I climbed up on the bank and walked around his position and re-entered. As I drifted the three fly combination past a rock protruding above the surface a nice rainbow appeared and inspected the Chernobyl, but didn’t take. After multiple drifts from below and along the side, I moved six feet above the rock and stayed back from the water. I flicked a cast eight feet above the rock and let the flies drift directly downstream until the trailing flies went directly into the rock. The big rainbow couldn’t resist and appeared to grab the scud. I set the hook and the rainbow thrashed a bit and moved out from the rock. I applied some side pressure and moved it a foot or two to the right when viewing from upstream. The rainbow appeared to be increasing its resistance and made a quick head snap to the right, and the fly came hurtling back toward me. This was quite disappointing after working hard sight fishing to large trout all morning.
I moved on and began using the technique of drifting the flies from above to large boulders that appeared to have cushions or holding water above the rock and shortly after the hookup with the large rainbow experienced a momentary hookup with another fish. Alas I was running out of good water to deploy my newfound successful technique and it was now early afternoon and getting close to the time when we’d committed to return and meet the girls. I waded across to the opposite bank and began walking down the path to meet Steve. When I got twenty feet or so above Steve, he suggested I stop and check out a small eddy along the bank. I stood and peered into the water for a minute and spotted at least four beautiful fish in the small 5 X 5 eddy. Two gorgeous rainbows were facing downstream along the bank as the current actually eddied back and brought food to them.
Steve had exited the water and said he didn’t know how I’d get a cast to them and was standing behind me. It was actually quite easy from my position above the fish, and I flicked the Chernobyl, scud and RS2 into the water on top of the two fish. On the first cast neither showed any interest, but a second cast below them drifted back through the two and the fish furthest from me made a slight movement with its head. I suspected it sucked in one of the nymphs with this maneuver and set the hook. Sure enough I had a fight on my hands and played the rainbow as it thrashed and fought. Since I was close to the fish I could control it fairly easily and brought it to net while Steve looked on. Steve kindly took my camera and snapped a few photos of the purple hued beauty.
It was a fine ending to an enjoyable day of fishing on the Yampa at Stagecoach.