Clear Creek – 02/20/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: West of Golden, CO

Clear Creek 02/20/2024 Photo Album

A predicted high temperature of 64 degrees in Denver, CO on February 20 was a clear invitation for this devoted fly angler to visit a stream. The one drawback to this plan was the forecast of wind gusting to fifteen miles per hour, but I decided to risk the short drive to Clear Creek in spite of this projected adversity.

Near the Start

The dashboard temperature upon my arrival was 51 degrees, so I suited up with my Under Armour long sleeved thermal shirt and North Face light down coat along with my billed cap with earflaps. I pulled my rain shell over my light down to act as a windbreaker, and I assembled my Loomis two piece five weight. By 11:30AM I was perched along the stream and anxiously anticipated my first casts of the new year. The creek was mostly clear in the area that I chose to fish with small residual ice shelves along the banks; however, I was never forced to venture on to unstable undercut ice.

First Fish of 2024

I rigged my five weight with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, and beneath it I attached a black mini leech and size 18 crystal stone nymph. Between 11:30AM and 12:15PM, I prospected upstream and cherry-picked locations with slower current and depth. I managed to experience two temporary connections, before I paused for lunch in a sunny spot along the north bank. One of the trout that showed interest in my flies sipped the fat Albert, and I was shocked by this action, which may have contributed to my loss of the fish. At some point in the morning I swapped the crystal stone for a beadhead hares ear nymph.

Twenty Incher

After lunch I once again reconfigured my lineup, as I exchanged the mini leech for an emerald caddis pupa, and I moved the hares ear to the upper position on my dropper lines. This combination failed to interest the fish, so I paused once more, and in this instance I replaced the hares ear with a 20 incher in the top position. In a short amount of time I realized that I found a winning combination, as I landed four rainbow trout in a matter of thirty minutes. Three nabbed the 20 incher and one consumed the emerald caddis pupa. I deployed the 20 incher as a means to generate deeper drifts, and surprisingly it became the food of choice for some Clear Creek rainbow trout. The rainbows were likely holdover stockers, but I was quite pleased to land them and in so doing register my first fish on the 2024 fish counter. The largest was probably twelve inches, with the others in the ten to eleven inch range.

Largest on the Day

This sudden dose of success spurred me on, and my eagerness for more action allowed me to block out the numbness of my hands and the increasing loss of feeling in my feet. For the remainder of my time on the creek I covered quite a bit of territory, and I landed a small brown trout and a seven inch rainbow. The brown trout was a greedy little guy, as he ate the fat Albert, and the fly fell out of the rainbow’s mouth, so I was unable to determine the object of its hunger. During this time period I endured another pair of temporary connections.

A Brown Trout Joins the Catch List

By 3:00PM I approached a bridge, and this offered an easy exit, so I grabbed the opportunity to transform my feet from frozen stumps into feeling digits. Tuesday, February 20 was a respectable start to my 2024 fly fishing season. I landed six trout and interacted with four more in three hours of fishing. The wind gusted periodically, but I paused during the worst of it. The most productive water was the seams, where fast deep runs sliced through deep pools to create a shelf pool. The trout apparently rested in the relatively low velocity depths and picked off food items, as morsels tumbled by. Landing fish in February was a noteworthy event for this fair weather angler, and weather will dictate my next fly fishing outing.

Fish Landed: 6

Source of a Trout

Fat Albert – 02/03/2024

Fat Albert 02/03/2024 Photo Album

It is difficult to supplement my post of 01/23/2023 with relevant information. If you are interested in this fly click on the link to my previous year narrative. This fly receives quite a bit of usage as the surface fly that accompanies double nymphs in a dry/dropper configuration. In addition to serving as an extremely effective strike indicator, it attracts its share of eats along the way.

I counted my fat Alberts and determined that I needed six to replenish my supply for the 2024 season. I dumped my damaged fly canister, and four old fat Alberts with missing legs materialized. I refurbished the handicapped hoppers and tied three new versions, and this allowed me to gift one to my friend, Nate. I am now fairly certain that I have adequate fat Alberts to get me through the upcoming season.

Pool Toy Hopper – 01/27/2024

Pool Toy Hopper 01/27/2024 Photo Album

I have very little to add beyond my post from a year ago, which can be viewed at 01/22/2023. I probably deploy the pool toy hopper more than any other large hopper or foam pattern. It is only surpassed by the smaller and, in my opinion, more versatile hippie stomper. Ironically both flies were designed by the master of foam, Andrew Grillos.

When I counted my inventory of pool toy hoppers, I discovered that I needed to increment my supply by nine, and I added one for my friend, Nate. I also maintain some plastic canisters with mangled and damaged flies that I placed out of service during the season, and I discovered six flies in this condition. I approached my vise and replaced the missing legs on the damaged flies and then produced four new versions; three for me and one for my friend. I am certain that this fly will spend quite a bit of time on my line throughout the season, and I am equally sure that legs will fall off, and a few will be donated to trees and aggressive fish. I am prepared for every eventuality in 2024.

 

2023 Top Ten – 01/25/2024

During 2023 I landed 832 trout during 70 stream visits. My stated goal is 1,000 fish per year, so based on this yardstick I came up short. However, I lost four weeks due to illness during September and early October, and these are typically some of my most productive periods. Despite my advancing age, I continue to seek areas for improvement, and I explore new waterways, and 2023 delivered on these aspects of fly fishing. An area of focus over the last several years has been lake fishing, and I feel certain that progress was made. Below is my annual take on my top ten fishing outings of 2023.

10. Clear Lake – 06/21/2023 – A goal of mine over the last several years was to improve my ability to catch fish in stillwaters, and my outing on 06/21/2023 is a testament to progress toward that objective. I landed thirty-five rainbow trout during an afternoon of hot fishing. Sure, they were stocked fish, but the ability to land this many trout from a lake was still a notable accomplishment in my experience with lake fishing.

9. Elk River – 08/08/2023 – The lack of cutthroat trout was a definite disappointment, but landing nineteen trout in a gorgeous backcountry setting was still a much appreciated day. A handful of very fine brown trout including a sixteen inch lunker in a relatively small stream setting separated this day from other high country creek visits.

8. Eagle River – 10/03/2023 – My friend, Dave G., invited me to join him for an autumn outing on some private water on the Eagle River. I was glad I accepted the offer. The day started slow, but after Dave G. offered me one of his olive perdigons, I caught fire. By the end of our outing I accumulated twelve landed trout, and many were very healthy slabs of pink-striped rainbow trout. See below.

7. Roaring Fork River – 07/21/2023 – This was one of two guided float trips during 2023. I joined my friend, Dave G., and we floated the Roaring Fork River with my favorite guide, Reed Ryan, The Roaring Fork flows were nearly ideal, and I landed fourteen very nice cutbows and rainbows. These fish were all in the fourteen to sixteen inch range, and they were very active fighters. Dry flies ruled the day, and that is always a positive in this angler’s book.

6. South Boulder Creek – 08/20/2023 – On this day in August I introduced my new friend, Nate, to fly fishing during the green drake hatch. The green drake hatch was not dense, but the trout were tuned in, as I landed twenty-four browns and rainbows. Nate did quite well also, and I think he set a new personal record for quantity in one day. The parachute green drake was the most productive fly of the day.

5. Beaver Creek – 08/29/2023 – I renamed this creek to protect it. I landed thirty trout, and many were above average size brown trout for a relatively small stream. The creek was low and clear, the sun was bright, and the scenery was spectacular. In short, when combined with thirty trout, it was a recipe for one of my best days of the year.

4. South Platte River – 04/14/2023 – It was cold and windy; perfect conditions for blue wing olives, and they took advantage. I, in turn, leveraged a long afternoon hatch to land twenty stunning trout from major pools, and many were above average size. It was a great launch for blue wing olive season on the South Platte River. Wind, cold and snow could not deter me from a rewarding early season outing.

3. North Fork of the White River – 09/27/2023 – Stunning cutbows and brook trout were the name of the game. It took awhile to solve the puzzle, but eventually a hippie stomper and salvation nymph created some torrid action. Every one of forty-two fish landed was a pallet of vivid colors. Take me back to September.

2. North Fork of the White River – 09/29/2023 – A third day on the North Fork produced outstanding results. Although the fish count of twenty-nine trailed the 09/27/2023 day, it was accomplished in a shorter window of time, since I needed to depart early for the long drive back to Denver. The number of brook trout landed was greatly reduced compared to Wednesday, and this translated to larger cutbows and rainbows. The autumn weather was stunning, and this day was close to perfect.

  1. Myrarkvisl River – 05/22/2023 AM and Myrarkvisl River – 05/22/2023 PM – This was my last full day of fly fishing in Iceland, and everything seemed to click. I came down with a cold, which I eventually learned was covid, but I battled through two sessions to record my best day of the trip. The wind was strong in the morning, but it finally abated enough to enjoy some dry/dropper fishing in the evening. In the morning session I landed six brown trout in the seventeen to nineteen inch range on black ghost and Mickey Finn streamers. Six additional browns squirmed in my net during the evening session including a twenty inch beast and a very heavy nineteen inch brown. It was a highlight of my trip, and I was able to deploy the dry/dropper technique to land two nineteen inch bruisers.

 

 

Chernobyl Ant – 01/23/2024

Chernobyl Ant 01/23/2024 Photo Album

For an excellent recap of my experience with and usage of the classic Chernobyl ant please review my post of 01/23/2021. It also contains a link to a materials table, and it does an excellent job of explaining the circumstances that induce me to tie a Chernobyl ant to my line. I am unable to build upon that narrative here in any significant way.

My usage of the Chernobyl ant has declined in recent years, as chubby Chernobyls, fat Alberts and pool toy hoppers now command the prime position as a highly visible and very buoyant surface fly in a dry/dropper configuration. For this reason my loss of this fly is negligible, and consequently I determined that I had adequate supplies for another year. In order to remain in practice and to provide some for my young fishing friend, Nate, I tied two. They turned out great, so hopefully Nate will enjoy them as much as I do.

 

Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/16/2024

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/16/2024 Photo Album

Check out my post of 01/17/2023 for more information and links related to Jake’s gulp beetle. This fly is quite easy to tie, and one of my historical posts provides step by step directions.

I deployed the foam beetle a few times during 2023, but I do not seem to revive its effectiveness similar to situations in past years. I suspect some of this shift resulted from my tendency to not use it, as I tend to default to the hippie stomper, stimulator or deer hair caddis before resorting to a foam beetle. This is perhaps a mistake on my part, so I will try to reverse this trend in 2024.

My supply was slightly depleted, so I tied an additional five with one going to my friend. The remaining four were split evenly between size 14 and size 12. I feel prepared for terrestrial plopping in the upcoming season.

Hippie Stomper – 01/12/2024

Hippie Stomper 01/12/2024 Photo Album

I opened my dry fly tying season with a hippie stomper, and why not? This fly is hands down my top producing dry fly, and I cannot even tell you what it imitates. I suppose that is the beauty of it; it looks like any number of natural food items, and most importantly it is simply buggy. I suggest that you read my last post from 01/11/203, as it has excellent background information and a link to an older post with even more explanation. My 2023 post is especially effective at explaining how and when I deploy the hippie stomper.

I began last year with twenty-five hippie stompers in stock containing my favorite body color, peacock; and I determined that my supply was severely diminished. In fact, toward the end of the 2023 season I began to worry that my valued stock of hippie stompers would be fully depleted. This level of shrinkage is a testament to heavy usage of an extremely effective fly. For this reason I approached my vise and tied twenty-eight new versions. I made three for my friend, Nate, and the remainder replenished my fly boxes. Of the twenty-five for me, twenty contained a peacock dubbed body and five contained an olive ice dub body. I was able to recover quite a few hooks by stripping old hippie stompers that were damaged through a season of heavy usage.

 

Sunk Ant – 01/02/2024

Sunk Ant 01/02/2024 Photo Album

You are able to read the story of my burgeoning romance with the sunk ant in my post of 12/21/2020. It contains a materials table and a mention of my favored fly tying video. An informative update is available on my 01/03/2023 post.

Sunk ants have earned a more prominent place in my fleece wallet after experiencing solid results on high country streams. I tried them a few times on the large down valley rivers, but I was not able to replicate similar results, although admittedly the amount of time on the line in these situations was not comparable. It does stand to reason, however, that small high mountain creeks are closer to bushes and trees bearing ants on both banks of the stream. I am a huge fan of sunk ants, and I only question why it took so long to become a proponent.

I made four size 14 sunk ants and two size 16’s, and I gave one of each size to my friend, Nate. My supplies of these flies should be adequate for 2024. Bring on the army of ants.

Pat’s Rubber Legs – 12/29/2023

Pat’s Rubber Legs 12/29/2023 Photo Album

If you are thinking about fishing Pat’s rubber legs during the upcoming season, but you are not convinced of its effectiveness, check out this post from 06/27/2022. Effective would be an understatement. This day on the Arkansas River convinced me to never overlook my stocks of Pat’s rubber legs. Additional useful information is available from my post of 12/22/2022.

I used my better judgement to count my rubber legs, and I concluded that I maintained an adequate supply, but I tied up two additional weighted nymphs in coffee/black and two in the olive/black color. One of each color was donated to my exercise specialist friend.

Scuds – 12/27/2023

Scuds 12/27/2023 Photo Album

Solid background information on scuds and descriptions of some modifications that I added are contained in my post of 12/20/2019. My post of 12/18/2020 adds additional guidance on scud usage. Since I fished more lakes in 2023, I plan to do the same in the coming year, and scuds are a main stillwater food source.

With this intention in mind, I counted my scud inventory, and I determined that I needed to tie seven additions. Actually my supplies were relatively adequate, but I was looking for an excuse to refresh my memory on tying steps; and in addition, I produced three for my friend, Nate. I maintain three colors; orange, medium olive and gray. I used olive ice dub for the olive versions, and I must say, they look very attractive, although I am not a fish.