Monthly Archives: July 2017

Cache la Poudre River – 07/31/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Upper Landing to Stevens Gulch

Cache la Poudre River 07/31/2017 Photo Album

I could not bring myself to pack the car with fishing and camping gear on Monday, so I decided to make a foray into the local Front Range streams. Unfortunately when I reviewed the DWR stream flow charts, the status of the local drainages remained largely unchanged. Bear Creek was an option, but I desired something larger in scale. South Boulder Creek was down to 185 CFS, and that is quite high for the small tailwater west of Golden, CO, but I considered giving it a try. Once again the most viable options were the North Fork of the St. Vrain and the Cache la Poudre River. I fished the St. Vrain on Thursday July 27, so I elected to take another trip to the Cache la Poudre. My previous three visits were very productive, so why not revisit a known quantity.

During my previous experience on the Cache la Poudre, the morning was relatively unproductive, so I completed my normal morning exercise routine before I departed at 9:10. In one minor deviation from past practice I decided to experiment with new water, and since the new locale was east of the Pingree Park area, the trip was shortened a bit. I arrived at the Upper Landing Picnic Area by 10:30, and I stepped into the water across from the parking lot and began fishing by 11AM. I chose my Loomis five weight in order to test my new Orvis Battenkill disc drag reel.

A woman was sitting in a lawn chair on a gravel beach next to a nice shelf pool, so I asked her permission to fish. She quickly voiced her approval, and I tied a medium olive size 14 stimulator to my line. I was not more than five feet in front of her, when I spotted a small rainbow trout, as it sipped the stimulator, and I quickly guided the pretty seven inch fish to my net. After I released the small gem into the river, a man appeared, and he began talking to the woman in the chair. I gathered that he left his fly rod at home, and he stood on the beach with a relatively heavyweight spinning rod. I took the hint and quickly moved upstream and vacated the quality shelf pool to the newly arrived gentleman.

Edge Fishing on July 31

Small Guy Near Start

In the hour between 11AM and noon I moved quickly from pocket to pocket, and I incremented the fish counter to six before I sat down on a flat rock and ate my sandwich, carrots and yogurt. Although the catch rate was excellent, the fish were on the small side for even the Poudre, and I felt that I cast to some quality locations that did not yield fish, and I was fairly certain that trout existed in these attractive locales.

Before resuming my casting I took advantage of my break, and I reconfigured my line with a three fly dry/dropper set up. I chose a size 10 Chernboyl ant as the top fly, and then knotted the beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph beneath the large foam attractor. These three flies served my purposes admirably over the next 3.5 hours, as I lifted the fish tally from six to twenty-six. Three of the netted fish smacked the Chernobyl ant on the surface, and 75% of the remaining landed fish gobbled the salvation nymph. The remainder nabbed the upper offering, the hares ear nymph.

Rainbow Liked Chernobyl

The action was not as frenetic as my last session on the Poudre, but it was steady and kept me focused. I adhered to my three to five cast rule, and in the process I covered the left bank from Upper Landing to Stevens Gulch. This is likely .5 mile or more of shoreline. Quite a few of the trout attacked the nymphs, as I lifted at the tail of a run to make another cast, and another popular tactic was to cast across to a nice slot and then allow the nymphs to swing at the end of the drift. As this solid day of fishing unfolded, it was accompanied by quite a few temporary connections. I estimate there was one long distance release for every two fish that rested in my net.


Nice Water

At 2PM I waded near a section that looked particularly attractive, and it was bathed in sunlight thus providing excellent visibility. Even though I did not observe green drakes in the surrounding environment, I was curious to discover if a large juicy drake would tempt the resident river dwellers. I removed the three flies that served me quite well, and I replaced them with a size 14 Harrop hair wing green drake. Initially two fish refused the bushy mayfly imitation, but then a nice eleven inch brown trout crushed it in a fairly shallow pool next to the bank. Perhaps my move would pay off after all. Sadly my optimism was misplaced, as two or three refusals followed the release of my solitary green drake eater.

The experiment taught me that the fish were looking toward the surface, so I returned to the medium olive size 14 stimulator. This fly produced six takes in the late morning, so why not give it an encore? It was worth a try, but the twenty minutes of drifting the stimulator failed to induce even a look or refusal. I was now in the middle of a series of quality deep runs and pockets, and not wishing to waste an opportunity, I returned to the Chernobyl ant, hares ear and salvation. The green drake experiment took place while I rested on a fish count of eighteen, and the resumption of dry/dropper prospecting lifted the count to its final resting place of twenty-six.

So Vivid

By 3:15 I reached the Stevens Gulch day use area, so I turned right and traveled along a paved entry lane to a wide gradual beach that served as a launching point for whitewater rafters. As I ambled to the water, I looked downstream and noticed a short elderly angler at the very tail of the large pool. In order to provide space I began casting my flies at the very top of the pool where a series of choppy rapids entered. I sprayed five drifts to this area, with each one farther toward the middle of the river, but the fish were either not present or not interested in my flies.

I applied my rule and moved to a small marginal pocket below some shrubs, and I hooked a cast beneath the limb, and when I lifted to make a second cast, I felt some weight and landed an eight inch brown trout. Several bushes extended over the river tight to the bank, so I began to circle inland with the intent of resuming my upstream progression, when I noticed the same elderly fisherman that was positioned forty yards below me at the tail of the large pool. He had just moved into position ten feet above me, and I concluded he was not aware of my presence, so I shouted, “I’m here”. I expected he would apologize and give me some space, but instead he replied, “I see you”, and he resumed his preparation to cast. I was more dumbfounded than angry at this point, so I reeled up my line and hiked back to the car. In excess of fifty miles of river exist on the Cache la Poudre, and this angler felt compelled to cut in ten feet above me. Sometimes the thought process of other human beings is very perplexing.

After I reached the car, I stashed my gear and drove east beyond Stove Prairie to a segment of the river that was wide with a long fast riffle structure. I surmised that I could fish the narrow ribbon of slow water along the bank, so I geared up and walked to the base of the long fast section. Before resuming the edge fishing, I prospected around some large exposed boulders where the river angled away from the highway, but this was not productive. The clock was ticking toward four, and I wanted to prospect the left bank, as I was certain that few fishermen endured the hassle of sliding down the steep bank through thick bushes to fish relatively unattractive water. My light pressure theory may have been correct, but twenty minutes of tough wading and casting rewarded me with only one more nine inch brown.


The one fish I did land resulted in the loss of my two nymphs. When I hooked the spunky brown trout it raced downstream past a large submerged block-shaped rock, and the trailing nymphs snagged the rock on the side away from me. I waded close to the fish and lifted it above the water and swooped my net under it. Somehow this action caused the leader to break above the first nymph, and all that remained was the Chernobyl ant. I reached my hand around the rock, but I could not feel any line or flies, so I added them to my lost inventory.

Monday was an enjoyable day on the Cache la Poudre River. Twenty-six fish is a solid tally for five hours of fishing, and the action was relatively steady throughout the time on the river. I encountered only a couple other fishermen, and I proved that other sections of the river besides the Pingree Park special regulation area could provide decent results. Unlike my previous visits, I observed very few insects, but the above average flows seemed to please the trout, and they continued to feed opportunistically.

Fish Landed: 26

North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek – 07/27/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Buttonrock Dam.

North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek 07/27/2017 Photo Album

After fishing in three different rivers between July 24 and July 26, I decided that I needed to choose a local destination for my next venture. Friends visiting from South Carolina were arriving as guests on Friday, so Thursday offered the best opportunity to sneak in another day of fishing; the fourth successive day of the week. After three great days during the first half of the week, I was skeptical that a Front Range stream could provide comparable enjoyment.

I checked the DWR water graphs, and I determined that the Cache la Poudre River and North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek were my best options. The Poudre was tempting, since I logged three very successful days there in July 2017, but it was a longer drive and involved a higher risk of traffic snarls. The NF of the St. Vrain was chugging along at 110 CFS, and that is high for the relatively small stream northwest of Lyons, CO. After weighing the pluses and minuses I finally settled on the St. Vrain, since it involved only a one hour and fifteen minute drive, and I was anxious to try something new. I convinced myself that I could edge fish the stream, if the flows were high enough to concentrate the fish along the banks.

Churning St. Vrain Remains High

I departed my house in Denver by 8:40, and this delivered me to the parking area at the trailhead to the North Fork by 10AM. I quickly put on my waders and fishing gear, and then I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and began to hike up the dirt road. The weather was rather warm with the temperature already in the high seventies when I departed at ten o’clock, and the stream was indeed high but clear. As I examined the segment of water next to the parking area, I concluded that it was not high enough to concentrate the fish along the bank, and midstream current barriers also provided sufficient shelter from the high flows.

I hiked for twenty minutes, and at that point I angled down a steep bank to the creek. I tied a Chernobyl ant to my line along with an ultra zug bug and a beadhead hares ear nymph, and I began to prospect a succession of deep slow moving pools. Within the first five minutes a fish elevated and inspected the Chernobyl ant, but then it returned to its holding position at the tail of the pool. On another later drift I watched a fish as it moved slightly to its right as the nymphs passed by, but once again the inspection did not lead to a take.

I gave up on the first pool and moved on to several equally attractive areas along the left bank. In each place I spotted fish, but they seemed to be hugging the bottom, and they completely ignored my three fly offering. I was pleased to observe so many fish in water that I skipped since the 2013 flood, but I was equally frustrated that I could not connect. I swapped the ultra zug bug for a salad spinner, since the fish seemed to snatch something from the subsurface drift occasionally, and a midge larva or emerger is a good bet in these circumstances. No dice. Next I exchanged the salad spinner for a size 20 RS2, but this fly was equally ineffective.

I reconsidered my approach, and I recalled that a fish elevated to look at the Chernobyl ant at the start of my casting. I decided to test a size 14 gray stimulator. The ploy was worth a try, but it simply resulted in casting practice. I concluded that I was dwelling on the sighted fish in deep water, and one of my cardinal rules is to keep moving, so I climbed the bank and hiked farther up the road.

Point Where Second Outlet from Dam Enters

Previous trips to the North Fork of the St. Vrain taught me that two outlets from the dam exist, and roughly a mile of water exists between the two releases. I decided to seek lower volume above the second release pipe, and I reached this spot by noon. Twenty yards above the gushing conduit a small cluster of trees bordered the creek, so I skipped to that spot and consumed my lunch.

Lunch View

I estimated that one-third of the North Fork flow was derived from the second outlet pipe, so I now confronted a stream carrying two-thirds of the downstream volume, and this was a welcome change. Counterbalancing this positive, however, was the relatively steep gradient, which created a series of rapids, fast riffles, pockets, deep runs and plunge pools. I quickly concluded that the gray stimulator was not the preferred approach, and I reverted to a three fly dry/dropper setup. I substituted the yellow fat Albert for the Chernobyl ant to obtain maximum floatation to support an iron sally and salvation nymph. These flies connected with fish almost immediately, and they remained on my line for the duration of my stay on the small tailwater.

First Fish Was This Small But Brilliant Rainbow Trout

I advanced into dry/dropper prospecting mode, and I had a great time. I delivered two to five casts depending on the quality of my target area, and then I moved on to the next likely fish holding locale. The fish count climbed from zero to fifteen before I quit just below the dam at 3:30. The sky remained mostly clear, and the air temperature peaked in the eighties, but the forecast thunderstorm for 2:45 never arrived. I spotted a pale morning dun or two and a handful of blue winged olives, and although the mayfly activity never spurred surface feeding, it did seem to increase the aggressiveness of the fish between 12:30 and 2:30.

One of the Better Fish Next to a Wildflower

The fish were small, with the largest perhaps reaching twelve inches, but most measured in the seven to nine inch range. Roughly 40% responded to the iron Sally, and the others latched on to the salvation. During the active two hour time slot, several fish stopped the drift of the fat Albert, when they attacked the trailing nymphs. Throughout the afternoon the top producing technique was to cast across the strong midstream current to slow moving slack water along the opposite bank. I held the rod tip high to keep the fly line off the water and allowed the foam indicator fly and the nymphs to sweep downstream along the bank. If executed properly, this approach generally resulted in a strike near the downstream border with faster water. The brown trout were suckers for the nymphs, as they began to swing away from the bank. During the course of the afternoon, I probably lost more fish than I landed. I attributed this unfortunate circumstance to the small mouths of the stream residents.

Slicks Behind Rocks Produced

Although Thursday did not measure up to the early week outings, it did satisfy my need for a local day of fishing. I managed to partially solve the puzzle, as I landed fifteen fish. The first hour raised the specter of a skunking, but a lunch break and change of scenery made that a distant concern. I hit the fly fishing pause button in order to catch up on this blog and attend to some pending errands. More adventures lie ahead during the first week of August, I am sure.

Fish Landed: 15

A Surprise Rainbow on the Return Hike


Arkansas River – 07/26/2017

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Hayden Meadows

Arkansas River 07/26/2017 Photo Album

Jane and I packed up our wet campsite on Wednesday morning, and Jane returned home to dry out the tent, canopy and tablecloth, while I embarked on yet another day of fly fishing adventure. On July 12, 2016 the apparent absence of fish on Half Moon Creek caused me to alter my plans, and I salvaged my day with a visit to the Hayden Meadows area of the north Arkansas River. Since I was positioned at Hornsilver Campground north of Tennessee Pass, I was in striking distance of the same section of the Arkansas River Headwaters Area, so I decided to give it another trial.

I climbed Tennessee Pass and passed through Leadville and arrived at the northern parking lot by 9:30. The Department of Transportation was doing road work in the area where one turns to access the parking space for Hayden Meadows, and as I prepared to fish, a group of wader clad fishermen were standing in a circle in the larger lot by the trail that leads to the stocked lake. I could hear guides calling out instructions to the students. I was concerned that this crowd would descend upon the river in a short amount of time, so I elevated my usual preparation pace. I selected my Loomis five weight rod, and I quickly tromped down the dirt road toward the bridge that crosses the river.

Two other cars were parked in the same area as me, and a woman returned from walking her dog, so that accounted for one of the vehicles. As I began ambling down the two lane dirt road on the west side of the river, I passed a lone fisherman, and that explained the second car. I decided to hike for twenty minutes, and I was fairly certain this would distance me from the fly fishing class in the western lot. This was the second instance in 2017 that I crossed paths with a fly fishing class.

One of the Mountains to the West

The air temperature was cool for July as the thermometer registered sixty degrees, and large gray clouds covered most of the western sky. During my time on the river, the temperature never exceeded the mid seventies, and the gray clouds blocked the sun seventy percent of the time. The river was clear and 220 cfs translated to a rapid pace, and I was unable to cross until I reached a place where it divided into multiple smaller channels.

Inside Shelf of the Bend

I adhered to my plan and hiked for twenty minutes, and at that point I cut sharply to the left and bushwhacked through some tall grass and wild shrubs until I encountered the river. I began fishing with a chubby Chernobyl with a mustard colored body, an emerald caddis pupa and a beadhead hares ear nymph. It took me awhile to understand the productive water type, but eventually I learned that the dry/dropper produced the best results at the tail of long slicks behind large rocks and at the downstream end of the inside seam of a bend. This knowledge enabled me to tally five landed fish between ten o’clock and noon, when I paused for lunch. The first fish was an eight inch brown that snatched the emerald caddis pupa in a small marginal seam along the bank. The others were nice brown trout in the 12 – 13 inch range, and these hungry fish grabbed the hares ear at the tail of deeper slots behind obstructions in the middle of the river. I exchanged the chubby Chernobyl for a yellow fat Albert within the first twenty minutes to obtain better visibility in the low light conditions.

Not Bad Start to the Morning

Mosquitoes were initially a severe nuisance, but after I sprayed my neck and hands with insect repellent, they seemed to fade. I chose a lunch spot that was away from the tall grasses and shrubs in order to avoid stirring up another mosquito nest. While I crunched my carrots, I observed a nice deep run along the bank just upstream, and I noted two dimpling rises. I was unwilling to attribute this surface feeding to small fish, and once I was properly geared up, I removed the dry/dropper configuration and adopted a single dry fly method. I saw one small pale morning dun attempting to become airborne, so I opted for a size 16 light gray comparadun, and I placed five casts over the scene of the dimples. I received no verification that my fly selection was appropriate, so I stripped in the comparadun and pondered my next move.

As I cast the PMD imitation, I saw the second large lumbering drake of the day. The ArkAnglers web site identified these as gray drakes, and I wondered if a large drake imitation might tempt the local stream dwellers. I also noticed quite a few small blue winged olives, but I was reluctant to go that route in the dim light and glare in relatively fast water. I gazed in my fly box and selected a size 14 green drake comparadun.

I gave up on the lunch time riser, and slowly waded to the top of the narrow ribbon of slow water along the bank. I paused, and as I looked on, I could see the back fin of a decent fish, as it plucked something from the surface in some swirly currents. I fluttered the comparadun to the location of the sighted fish, and I was unable to follow my fly, so I lifted and felt the momentary weight of a fish. It was only a split second, but I was certain that I pricked the sighted fish, and I knew that there would be a temporary pause in its feeding regimen.

A Harrop Deer Hair Green Drake

I moved on, and the comparadun generated a refusal, so I decided to try a size 12 2XL medium olive stimulator. I recalled that a stimulator was effective on July 12, 2016, and I hoped to recapture the year ago success. I persisted with the stimulator for ten minutes, but it was not attracting any interest, so I once again paused to consider my options. I studied the green drake section of my fly box, and I focused on a set of Harrop green drakes, that I tied over the winter. These flies presented a stimulator body and wing form, but the colors were much more imitative of green and gray drakes. I grabbed one and replaced the stimulator.

Creating a Nice Sag

The choice proved to be a clear winner. The fish counter climbed from five to fifteen over the remainder of the afternoon, and the Arkansas River trout loved the Harrop green drake. Many of the netted fish streaked two or three feet downstream to intercept the high riding drake before it could escape or tumble into faster water. The takes were direct and confident. The most difficult aspect of the afternoon fishing was finding the right type of water to fool the brown trout. Nearly all of the ten afternoon drake chompers were in the five foot band of slow moving water between the bank and the heavy current. Quite often I executed a reach cast and then allowed the fly to float downstream, and a brown trout appeared from the depths and confidently smashed the Harrop green drake.

Keep Them Wet

Needless to say, I had a blast. For the second day in a row, I fished primarily a single dry fly and avoided all the hassles related to casting three flies among willows, bushes and windy conditions. Once I stumbled on the favored fly, it was a matter of covering a lot of water in order to find the prime spots where brown trout opportunistically pounced on a large bushy drake imitation. The greatest challenges were the dim light and frequent glare, and the repeated cycle of absorbing water from the fly and then dipping in dry shake. When the wings of the Harrop deer hair drake became wet and matted, the fly seemed to lose effectiveness.

Lunch View

By 3:15 I encountered another fisherman, and I soon learned that I bumped into the fly fishing class. In the .5 mile area below the bridge near my starting point I counted at least eight fishermen. I used this as an excuse to circle around the group, and I reached the bridge and then returned to the car. I am not sure how long the drakes will continue to entice Hayden Meadows trout to the surface, but I would welcome another opportunity to float my Harrop hair wings in the area. Fishing large dry flies to willing trout is a rare treat.

Fish Landed: 15

Piney River – 07/25/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Piney River Trail

Piney River 07/25/2017 Photo Album

It was Jane’s idea to introduce the Manson family to the Piney Lake area ten miles north of Vail, CO. Who was I to talk her out of an expedition that landed me at the trailhead to the Piney River one mile downstream from the lake? The Mansons offered convenient hiking partners for Jane, and while she was occupied entertaining our friends, I could embark on a hike-in fly fishing adventure. I visited Piney River twice in 2017, and each trip provided hours of enjoyment, so I was quite excited about the prospect of casting my line on the small stream again on Tuesday, July 25.

Jane and I downed a quick breakfast at Hornsilver and then made the twenty minute drive to Avon and met the Mansons at their condominium. After some conversation we formed a convoy and made the somewhat rough nine mile drive north on Red Sandstone Road to Piney River Crossing. Jane gathered her gear and supplies for the day and switched to the Manson’s rental SUV, and I pulled on my waders and strung my Orvis Access five weight rod.

Looking Rather Ideal

Originally I planned to wet wade, but the sky was overcast, the air temperature was a relatively cool sixty degrees, and rain was a likelihood; so I scuttled the wet wading plans. I departed the parking lot and hiked for forty-five minutes and then approached the stream at the top of a meandering meadow section. As indicated by the stream gauge reading near the confluence with the Colorado River, the flows were nearly ideal. The level was high enough to prevent the fish from being overly skittish, yet I could wade comfortably, and I could maneuver through the narrow walled canyon sections. It never rained during my tenure on Piney River, but I wore my raincoat for added warmth for all but the last two hours.

Quite Nice for a Small Stream

I began the day with a Chernobyl ant and an ultra zug bug, but after fishing through three areas that suggested the presence of fish with no action, I converted to a size 14 gray stimulator. On a previous trip the large foam indicator flies and trailing nymphs seemed to create excessive disturbance upon landing on the water, and I did not wish to make the same mistake on this visit. The gray stimulator became the star fly for the day, but I depleted my inventory by four as a result of shrinkage. Two were left behind in trees, one was retired due to an unraveling hackle, and one was left in the mouth of a trout; as I was unable to dislodge it without harming a pretty cutthroat.

Lunch Stump

Cutbow Glistens

In the first hour within forty yards of the meadow I landed ten fish! Several were some of the nicer brown trout netted during the day, and they measured in the thirteen inch range. It was a very enjoyable outing. Fly choice was a nonissue, as the stimulator produced at a steady rate. I never saw another fisherman, and the solitude was welcome. Amazingly I landed five different species of trout (if one counts brook as a trout and not a char): brown, rainbow, cutbow, cutthroat, and brook (although barely six inches). I moved quickly and avoided bogging down in any single spot. The trout typically smacked the stimulator on the first or second cast. I adopted the philosophy that failure to strike in two casts meant they were spooked or aware of my presence.

Close to Pure Cutthroat

The colors of the wild fish were amazing particularly the bright orange slash on the jaws of the cutbows and cutthroats. After lunch the catch rate slowed a bit as the gradient of the stream increased, thus offering fewer above average holding spots. At one point after losing a third gray stimulator, I tested a size 12 medium olive version, and this accounted for a couple fish, but then it seemed to fall out of favor. For the final thirty minutes I cast a size fourteen stimulator with a beige/rust body, and this coaxed three to the net, but again its effectiveness seemed diminished compared to the gray body version.

What a Color Scheme

Shadows to Light

The drive on a rough dirt road was a hassle, and the hike was tiring, but I had another great time on the Piney River. I already chose the stretch that I expect to explore on my next visit.

Fish Landed: 30

Fireweed and Cliffs

Eagle River – 07/24/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Edwards Rest Area

Eagle River 07/24/2017 Photo Album

Our friends from South Carolina planned a visit to Colorado for the week of July 24, and the visit included a stay at our house on Friday night, July 28, prior to an early flight on Saturday morning. Jane and I, however, hoped to spend additional time with them, so we organized a brief camping trip to the area near Avon, CO; the site of their condo unit for the week.

Of course I took advantage of this serendipitous arrangement to schedule some fishing time. The obvious destination near Avon, CO was the Eagle River, so I anxiously checked the DWR water graphs to determine the state of the local trout river. I was pleased to learn that the flows in Avon were in the 380 CFS range, and levels downstream of Wolcott only recently fell below 600 CFS. Based on my prior years experience, I knew that these levels supported decent fishing and were ahead of the usual summer doldrums when hatches end, and the water warms above the ideal feeding range.

The Eagle River Was Still Churning

Based on this analysis I decided to fish the Eagle River on Monday, July 24. I packed the car with fishing gear and some of the camping supplies in anticipation of fishing during the day and then meeting Jane at the Edwards Rest Area. We then hoped to drive to Hornsilver or Camp Hale Campgrounds to secure a campsite for two nights. Did Monday go as planned, and was my prediction of decent fishing on the Eagle River accurate?

The brief answer is yes, the fishing was decent for the Eagle River in late July. I landed fifteen fish, and most measured in the twelve to thirteen inch size range. The high temperature was in the upper eighties with bright sun most of my time on the water. Fifteen average size fish in these relatively adverse weather conditions was quite acceptable. As mentioned earlier, the flows were in the 380 CFS range, and this created manageable wading but also kept the fish in a happy and hungry state of mind. I observed a smattering of insects during the noon to 3PM time period. The species included primarily small blue winged olives, caddis, and five or six pale morning duns; and the availability of these food sources accounted for two rises during my entire day on the river.

Given the lack of surface activity, I deployed a dry/dropper set up for all but the last fifteen minutes, when I searched two nice pockets with a size 14 yellow stimulator. This was purely a hunch that golden stoneflies lingered, and perhaps the trout would opportunistically pounce on a large stonefly nugget. Unfortunately the brief trial did not produce any results.

Juicy Spot Above the Bridge

I began my day using my Sage four weight, and I tied a size 10 Chernobyl ant to my line along with a beadhead hares ear and a salvation nymph. This lineup produced quite well on the Poudre on Friday, so why not give it a try on the Eagle River? The universal fish attractor, the hares ear nymph, fulfilled its role and delivered an eleven inch brown trout and a twelve inch rainbow to my net before noon. Along the northern edge of the river between the Edwards Bridge and the rest area I added three additional brown trout in the ten to twelve inch range. I jettisoned the salvation nymph and replaced it with an ultra zug bug, and I repositioned the flies so that the hares ear was the bottom fly. The zug bug accounted for one of the three fish extracted above the bridge, and the hares ear fooled the other two.

Very Dark Olive Color

Unlike previous years I was able to wade along the high bank above the bridge, and when I moved above the small tributary creek that entered from the north at the rest area, I found myself above the fast chute where the river narrows. Here the river spread out nicely, and this enabled me to fish some deep pockets between the bank and the middle of the river. Reaching these juicy areas during higher flows is impossible. I remained locked on five fish for quite awhile, and I began to dread another tough outing attributable to heat and bright sun similar to the Colorado River on July 17 and 18.

A Star Behind the Eye of This Brown Trout

The segment of water just above the main path from the rest area is usually low and unproductive, but on Monday I found a nice deep run along the north bank, and this produced two of the best brown trout on the day. They were both in the thirteen inch range, and they displayed a deep buttery gold body color. Surprisingly I also enjoyed some action from the relatively shallow riffles in the same area.


When I encountered the long deep pool across from the steep dirt bank below some condominiums, I made a few perfunctory casts with no luck, and then I migrated to the pocket water below the pedestrian bridge. This short segment has historically been one of my favorites, and it did not disappoint on Monday. The boulder field and pocket water delivered five trout including a gorgeous cutthroat trout; a rarity for me on the Eagle River. Near the end of this section the ultra zug bug began to unravel, and I replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa. Earlier one of the flies impaled a cased caddis, and when I extracted the hook point, I discovered an emerald green caddis worm. This chance observation spurred me to test the emerald caddis pupa, and the pupa allowed me to land one of the five pocket water trout.

On Monday the ultra zug bug accounted for three fish, the emerald caddis pupa tallied one, and the hares ear delivered eleven. I covered a huge amount of water in the rest area vicinity, and I executed numerous casts, and it paid off with fifteen trout of moderate size on a hot sunny day. It was a solid day of fishing, and I met Jane at the agreed upon time, and we then continued our journey beyond Minturn and selected campsite number four at Hornsilver. A new adventure was in store for us on Tuesday.

Fish Landed: 15

Cache la Poudre – 07/21/2017

Time: 10:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Pingree Park area.

Cache la Poudre 07/21/2017 Photo Album

After landing two fish per day in three days of fishing in the Middle Park area of Colorado, I was quite anxious to return to a different place to determine if August conditions existed elsewhere in the state during the middle of July. I suspected that the Colorado River below Shadow Mountain was a marginal fishery, but it was within walking distance of the campsite, so very little time was invested to access the river for a few hours. It was my idea to drive to the Breeze Unit section of the Colorado River. I read fly shop reports that said fishing was excellent with yellow sallies, pale morning duns and caddis in abundance. Perhaps we fished during the wrong time of the day, but the level of success was not worth the constant skirmishes with clouds of mosquitoes. The Colorado River near Parshall fished like it was the middle of August.

My friend John suggested fishing on the North Fork of the Colorado River from the North Inlet Trail on Wednesday. The wildlife viewing was perhaps the best I ever witnessed, but I was not prepared for the low clear slow moving water in a meadow environment. Some sparse hatches developed, and I spotted a lot of fish, but the bright sun and clear water created very challenging conditions. I was ready for a change, as I reviewed the stream flows closer to Denver along the Front Range. All except Bear Creek and the North Fork of the St. Vrain remained quite elevated, so I once again made plans to fish the Cache la Poudre River on Friday July 21.

I departed Denver at 7:20AM, and fortunately the traffic was relatively light, thus allowing me to pull into a narrow parking space along CO 14 by 9:30. Many pullouts were occupied along the highway in the lower canyon, so I was pleased to find some open water in the Pingree Park special regulation section. The air was quite warm with temperatures in the upper seventies, as I prepared to fish between 9:30 and 10:00. I considered wet wading, but the weather forecast predicted afternoon thundershowers, and I was not inclined to fish in wet pants without the benefit of the strong radiant energy of the sun.

Let the Day Begin

I strung my Loomis two piece five weight and crossed the highway and then angled down a gradual wash until I reached the river. The Poudre continued to flow in a strong manner, although there was notably more space along the edge for wading than I encountered on my previous trip on July 13. I began my effort to land some cold water beauties with a tan pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph; and I managed to land one small brown trout that nipped the salvation. Unfortunately the more prevalent scenario was splashy refusals and aborted looks at the pool toy.

The River Was Still Brawling Through the Canyon

After twenty minutes of being snubbed by the trout, I removed the dry/dropper configuration and switched to a solo size 14 yellow stiimulator. This fly produced some action in the morning during my last trip, so I hoped the same result would ensue. The stimulator did in fact enable me to increment the fish count to five, but the four additional landed fish were carbon copies of the first and consistently in the 6-7 inch range. The quality of the water that I covered suggested that larger residents were present, but they did not seem inclined to eat what I was offering. In addition the yellow stimulator was not immune to refusals, so I made another change to a size 14 harrop green drake and then a gray stimulator. The green drake move was an attempt to take advantage of the known propensity of trout to recognize the large mayflies. The gray stimulator trial presumed that body color was the deterrent to fish eating the yellow version, but the gray attractor produced one additional small brown, and fewer looks and refusals.

I remained at six small fish at 11:40 when I encountered a family picnicking along the river next to a huge pool. I was a harsh critic of the fishing options in Middle Park during the earlier part of the week, but perhaps the Poudre and other streams in Colorado were only marginally better? I circled around the family and cut back to the river twenty yards above them. The father had a spinning rod, but he did not seem to be the type of fisherman who would progress quickly upstream to the area I now occupied.

A Predator

I found a nice wide flat rock and removed my packs and munched on my lunch, as I observed the river. Very little was happening in the form of aquatic insect activity, so I decided to return to the dry/dropper approach, but in the afternoon I utilized a size 10 Chernobyl ant as the top fly. I was actually hopeful that the fish would not be attracted to the radioactive ant and therefore would molest the trailing nymphs. The strategy paid off and between noon and 2PM I lifted the fish count from six to eighteen. I moved fairly quickly, and I began to discern the types of river structure favored by the trout, at least the trout that were willing to eat the flies that I was offering.

I essentially skipped over the large deep pools with only a couple token casts to the tail and very top where fast water entered. The large deep center sections were unproductive, so I used the time saved to focus my attention on pockets, runs, and wide riffles of moderate depth. Quite often I was pleasantly surprised to engage with trout in these surroundings. The average size of the fish also improved in the early afternoon, and I estimate that 75% of the trout favored the salvation nymph with the remainder willing to accept the hares ear.

A Narrow Pool Beckons

By 2:30 I met three obstacles to my progression up the Cache la Poudre River. The first was a bridge where CO 14 passed over the river. Of course this was a temporary intrusion on the fun day that was evolving. Second was a group of fishermen. One jumped in the river twenty yards above me, but he was in and out in a short amount of time. But as I grew closer to the bridge, another young gentleman appeared, and he was clearly an impediment, since he was about to begin casting. We exchanged greetings, and he suggested that nice water existed between his position and the bridge, so I circled around him and jumped back in. I fished two normally attractive spots with no action, so I began to suspect that he previously covered the water or disturbed it via casts or wading.

I began to reel in my flies, and as I did so, the third hurdle to continuing my enjoyable day appeared. Some dark gray clouds that heretofore were a distant nuisance, now hovered over my head, and some rumbling sounds reminded me that a storm was in the neighborhood. I quickly removed my packs, undid my suspenders, pulled my raincoat from the backpack, and slid it over my shirt. I was bit late in this endeavor, as my light olive fishing shirt could attest, as large wet olive blotches spread over my arms and chest. For the most part, however, I remained dry, and I decided to return to the car to move above the bridge, while the storm delivered its worst fury. The plan was solid, but the .5 mile return hike to the car was a dampening experience. As I exited the trees below the river, I noted that three vehicles were parked along the road, and two displayed rod vaults. Clearly I needed to leave and find more space.

Side View of the Friday Prize

Quality Edge Water

I proceeded west and grabbed the first pullout beyond the bridge. I decided to fish the same area that I covered on my first 2017 visit to the Cache la Poudre on July 7. I hiked east toward the bridge a short distance, and then I found a gap in the brush and approached the edge of the river. By now the rain subsided, and I was uncertain what impact the twenty minutes of steady downpour would have on the fishing. Although I was pleased with a fish count of eighteen, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of insect activity. Did the overcast conditions and rain delay any impending emergence?

As I began to cast the Chernobyl/hares ear/salvation alignment, I did in fact begin to notice a few random mayflies that were likely pale morning duns. Yellow sallies never made an appearance, and green drakes were conspicuous by their absence. Caddis were present along the rocks and streamside vegetation, and they occasionally dapped the surface of the river.

Another Big Boy by Cache la Poudre Standards

It did not take long before I discovered the impact of the storm. The trout of the Cache la Poudre exhibited a distinct affinity for the nymphs on my leader. Even though I never observed a significant number of adult mayflies, their nymphal stage must have been quite prevalent and active. Suddenly trout connected with my nymphs even when I cast the dry/dropper to small marginal slow moving pockets along the bank. In several cases I hooked fish as soon as the nynphs dropped below the surface, and I continue to be amazed by this phenomenon. The fish counter doubled from eighteen to thirty-six between three o’clock and 4:30 when I returned to my car.

Side View of the Friday Prize

It was a magical 1.5 hours of fishing. I moved quickly and rarely made more than four or five casts without hooking a fish. The size of the fish was another satisfying shift from the earlier part of the day, as several thirteen inch brown trout curled in my net after spirited battles. I learned that it pays to remain on the river after a storm, and that there are streams in Colorado that continue to produce hot fishing during the third week of July. I am already planning trips to other areas for next week, but I suspect that the Cache la Poudre may host me again in the near future.

Fish Landed: 36

A Field of Daisies Next to the River


North Inlet Creek – 07/19/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: The meadow approximately one mile from the North Inlet Trailhead.

North Inlet Creek 07/19/2017 Photo Album

Wednesday’s fishing outing began as an effort to catch fish in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it ended up as the pinnacle of my moose viewing experiences. I encourage readers to click on the link above to view the photo album including the videos.

After a challenging day of fishing on Tuesday on the Colorado River, I was humbled and deferred to John for recommendations of a fishing destination on Wednesday. We considered Willow Creek where it runs along CO 125, but John had some prior experience on North Inlet Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park. He described a moderate sized meadow stream that contained brook trout in the 8 – 10 inch range, and during his visit, the fish were rather willing to consume his dry flies. This was all I needed to hear before I jumped on board, and North Inlet Creek became our destination.

All three parking lots at the North Inlet Trailhead were full, when we arrived at 10:00AM, so John parked his pickup truck along the road downhill from the last lot. According to John reaching the meadow area for fishing necessitated a one mile hike through private land on the North Inlet Trail. The temperature climbed into the upper seventies as we prepared to fish, so I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and then changed into my quick dry pants and pulled on my wading socks. I anticipated that it would be a hot day even at the high elevation in RMNP, and I did not relish a one mile hike in heavy waders. Wet wading turned out to be the correct choice, and I was comfortable during my time on the meadow creek.

Hello There

After we were properly prepared for a day one mile away from the truck, we set out on the North Inlet Trail. Just as John described, after a mile we reached a point where the  stream made a ninety degree bend away from the trail, and I could readily see that it flowed through a wide meadow in a languid manner. We made a sharp right turn and began to march through the tall meadow grass, and as we were doing so, John pointed to a deer in the process of crossing the creek. I quickly extracted my camera from its protective case and snapped a few shots of the velvet antlered creature. This was a brief preview of the rest of our day, which included fishing amid two cow moose, a calf and one bull moose.

A Calf. A Cow Must Be Nearby.

We began casting our flies at eleven o’clock, and within minutes a pale morning dun hatch commenced. The hatch was rather sparse, but enough emerging adults speckled the surface of the stream to create a number of random rises. I immediately tied a size 16 light gray comparadun to my line to imitate the mayflies, but my imitation failed to attract any interest. John meanwhile had more luck with his Adams dry fly in a section of slow moving water upstream and around the bend. While this hatch evolved, I spotted a tan colored moose calf in the clearing to my left, and I advanced cautiously, as I anticipated a cow moose to be nearby.

Yep. One of Two Cows Near Our Fishing Destination

Sure enough when I rounded the bend, a cow moose came into focus, as it browsed along the edge of a tree stand no more than twenty yards to my left. I circled above John, and I observed quite a few decent fish in the clear and deceivingly deep pool. I made some casts with my comparadun, but the fish were once again disinterested in the best case, and in the worst case they scattered from the motion of the line. I decided that a dry/dropper approach in areas with more current might be a preferred method, so I converted to a yellow stimulator with a salvation nymph dropper. I was amazed when a fish moved six inches to the right and nipped the salvation, but my excitement was short lived as it quickly evaded the hook and returned to freedom.

Pretty But Tough

With a bit of action under my belt, I moved on to some faster runs at the head of pools. I surmised that the higher velocity current would prompt fish to react in a more rash manner, and this would translate to some landed fish. My theory proved to be flawed, and as the day continued, I learned that the densest population of fish were concentrated in smooth moderately deep pools, but these fish were extremely skittish and scattered quite easily.

After lunch I migrated upstream for .5 mile, and since the dry/dropper was ineffective, I converted to a single size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. Clearly the fish were looking to the surface for meals, and in my experience the size 16 gray caddis is a solid searching pattern. Finally in a faster run in a narrow section of the stream, I spotted a quick slurp among some riffles, and I set the hook and battled a thirteen inch brown trout to my net. John never mentioned the presence of brown trout in North Inlet Creek, so I was surprised by its size and presence.

Nice Brown Trout from High Elevation Creek

By 3PM John and I were burned out from the technical fishing in slow moving pools to edgy wild trout, so we returned to the area near the path where our fishing adventure began. Along the way we once again passed the cow moose with her calf nearby, so we cautiously circled to the south and allowed a wide buffer. I managed to reach a section near my beginning point that consisted of a short run below some large rocks, and here an eight inch brook trout smacked the caddis resulting in my second landed fish of the day.

A Majestic Beast

I released the wild brookie and walked to the point where the stream made a ninety degree turn from the path, and here I observed two splashy rises. I paused to make some casts, and as I did so, a hiker approached on the trail and informed me that a moose was just ahead and around the bend. Sure enough a large crowd of hikers gathered along the trail west of my fishing hole, and they watched and photographed a bull moose. My view was blocked by a large shrub, but after ten minutes the antlered beast slowly ambled to a spot directly across from me! This was my closest encounter with a moose in my lifetime, and I abandoned my fishing and the rising trout to take some spectacular close range movies and snapshots of the wild antlered beast.

Hard to Fish with This Spectator

Eventually the moose crossed the stream fifteen yards above me after pausing to gulp four or five large mouthfuls of water from the creek. I finally retreated to the path and moved downstream to a long smooth pool. Some fish resumed a feeding pattern, and I observed a second wave of pale morning duns, albeit even more sparse than the morning hatch, so I exchanged my caddis for a size 18 cinnamon comparadun. I managed to prick two fish in this area, but John broke off his fly and was not in the mood to tie on another, so I called it quits, and we hiked back to the car.

The fishing on Wednesday was quite challenging in slow moving clear water with very wary selective fish. The real highlight was wildlife viewing, as I tallied a marmot, deer, and four moose including the bull that stared at me while standing twenty-five feet away. What a thrill!

Fish Landed: 2

Colorado River – 07/18/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Parshall Breeze Unit/Hot Sulfur Springs below Byers Canyon

Colorado River 07/18/2017 Photo Album

I was admittedly frustrated with the tiny fish that populated the Colorado River below Shadow Mountain, so I proposed a trip to the Colorado River near Parshall, CO below the confluence with the Williams Fork. I enjoyed some amazing trips to that area in the 2007 – 2009 time frame; however, recent experiences were very disappointing. Despite this reluctance, I absorbed the various fly shop reports, and they all voiced glowing reviews and cited pale morning dun, yellow sally, and caddis hatches. Our location at Shadow Mountain offered limited large rivers with the potential for larger fish, so we rolled the dice and made the drive on Tuesday.

The day can easily be summed up as very tough. The upper Colorado River valley was quite warm, and bright sun beat down on us amid a clear blue sky for nearly the entire time on the river. The flows were in the 450 – 500 cfs range, and that is actually nearly ideal, so water levels were never an issue.

The Wide Colorado River at the Breeze Unit

John and arrived at the Breeze Unit parking lot at 10:00AM, and after he and I assembled our rods (in my case the Sage One five weight), we hiked toward the river. We turned right at the end of the high sagebrush plateau and then angled down a long bank until we reached the riparian zone. Here we were immediately attacked by mosquitoes, and this state of insect siege never relented during our entire stay at the Breeze Unit. We waded halfway across the river to the tip of an island, and then we proceeded to the downstream point until we spotted a pair of fishermen. This forced us to change our plan, and we elected to fish the north braid.

The north channel offered quite a few nice deep runs behind large submerged boulders, but the fish paid no attention to my tan pool toy, iron sally nymph, and salvation nymph. After striking out on the north side of the island, John and I moved to the tip. Here I observed the current, as it ran along the south bank, and I was surprised to spot two rises likely from the same fish. I removed the three flies and began to cast in the vicinity of the rises with a yellow stimulator. The fish was not impressed. Perhaps some early stage pale morning duns were on the water. I switched to a size 16 light gray pale morning dun, and the situation remained the same.

John Prospects Some Water Next to the Bank

I gave up on the sporadic riser and surveyed the area for a place to eat my lunch. All the banks were covered in tall grass, and this translated to mosquito hell, so I sat down on the gravel bar at the tip of the island.

After lunch John and I hiked for .4 mile to a gorgeous long pool with a strong deep current down the middle. This particular spot was one of my favorites during the halcyon days of 2007 – 2009. I reverted to a size 12 yellow stimulator, and this generated a refusal. Normally a refusal frustrates me, but after the extended dry spell without so much as a look, it was encouraging to draw interest from a trout. I downsized to a size 14, and this led to a small foul hooked brown trout. I seemed to be on the right track.

At this point the sky clouded up briefly, and during this respite from the sun I spotted several yellow sallies in the air. Finally a twelve inch brown trout crushed the stimulator three feet above the location of a splashy rise, and I landed my first fish on the day. This encouraged me to stay with the size 14 stimulator, and after a period of bright sunshine, a cloud once again blocked the sun. I executed a long downstream drift along the center current, and an eleven inch brown trout slurped the stimulator. During this period of temporary cloudiness I also witnessed three or four refusals and looks.

A Hard Earned Brown Trout

After another lull in action I experimented with a yellow Letort hopper size 10, and I was surprised by a temporary hookup. Eventually I once again returned to the stimulator, but the sun came out bright, and this quashed any additional action. John and I surrendered to the heat and sun and mosquitoes and returned to the car before malaria and West Nile set in.

We debated paying a visit to Willow Creek, a small tributary to the north, but we settled on the Colorado River just below the US 40 bridge at the western end of Byers Canyon. John fished there previously, and he was eager to showcase the nice water. We hiked downstream, and I fished some attractive water with the size 14 stimulator with no success. In a last ditch effort I experimented with a slumpbuster trailing the iron sally, and this trial led to no success.

A Parachute Ant Proved Fruitless

Just before quitting we noticed some rises in a smooth pool by the car, so I knotted a parachute ant to my line, but it was another failed effort. We were hot and tired and itchy from bites, so we retreated to John’s truck and made the drive back to Shadow Mountain for happy hour. We invested a lot of blood (to mosquitoes) and sweat for minimal return on the Colorado River on July 18.

Fish Landed: 2

Colorado River – 07/17/2017

Time: 2:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Below Shadow Mountain Dam

Colorado River 07/17/2017 Photo Album

Our friends, John and Brenda Price, invited us to join them on a three day camping retreat at Green Ridge Campground next to Shadow Mountain Reservoir. After experiencing a nearly full campground at Angel of Shavano Campground near Monarch Pass, we felt it was prudent to make reservations for Monday through Wednesday July 17 – 19. John and Brenda selected campsite 67, so we opted for number 66, as that was located next door. We planned to share meals, and the close proximity made this site convenient.

Jane and I arrived at the campground on Monday at 12:30, and John and Brenda greeted us after ten minutes, while we set up our tent and canopy. The Prices own a Casita travel trailer, so tent and canopy assembly were not part of their routine. Jane and I quickly made sandwiches and ate our lunch, and John suggested that we rig our rods and explore the Colorado River that ran just beyond a field of sagebrush fifty yards behind our campsite. I assembled my Sage four weight, and a short amount of time elapsed before we were positioned next to the river just below the spillway of Shadow Mountain Reservoir.

The river at this point was quite low. I am not aware of a gauge that meters the flow, but I guessed it was in the 40 – 50 cfs range. Before making the trip, I reviewed the DOW stocking reports and searched on the Colorado River, but no recent stocking data surfaced. I fished the short stretch of the Colorado River between Shadow Mountain and Lake Granby over ten years ago, and I experienced decent success, but the segment of the river benefited from frequent stockings. With the apparent discontinuation of stocking, I was skeptical that  the segment of water before us would be a productive fishery.

I began my afternoon efforts with a size 12 yellow stimulator, and the first marginal run yielded numerous refusals and a five inch brown trout. Perhaps I arrived at my judgment of the Shadow Mountain section of the Colorado too hastily. I crossed the river at a shallow riffle and moved downstream to the next attractive area where, a swift run churned through the middle of the channel and then spread out into a deep slow moving pool.

Fish were rising quite frequently, and I began with some across and down drifts, and in a short amount of time I registered a host of refusals and several tiny rainbow trout. Tiny in this case is defined as small trout in the 2 – 4 inch range. These fish could barely get the size 12 hook in their mouths, and in fact quite a few flipped off the fly shortly after the hook set. A couple flew through the air like a yo-yo on a string despite a relatively gentle lift of the rod tip.

Best Fish from Colorado River Below Shadow Mountain on Monday

As this action transpired I noted some rises in the gut of the pool; a place where the current spread out over the deepest section. I began to focus on the area of this activity, and I fluttered some casts in the current and allowed my fly to drift downstream to the area of the feeding fish. I was shocked when a bulge engulfed my stimulator, but I reacted with a swift hook set and instantly felt the weight of a more substantial fish. The hooked underwater combatant immediately went into a frenzied streak and repeated this escape effort several times, before I lifted it into my net. There before me was a lightly speckled cutbow that measured in the thirteen inch range. I was quite pleased with this fortuitous turn of events. I snapped a photo and released the creamy silver sided specimen and resumed casting.

Once again I cast across and allowed the current to float the stimulator downstream toward the deep section, but in this case the drift was farther out. Again a slurp materialized, and this time I netted a fine eleven inch cutbow. This fish also displayed a strong pound for pound fight, before I subdued it. At this point I was feeling rather optimistic about the remainder of the afternoon, but alas this positive view of my future was misplaced.

John on Target

John and I continued downstream and eventually passed twenty yards below a pedestrian footbridge, and I simply exercised my arm and endured a huge number of refusals, temporary hook ups, and landed five or six trout that measured beneath my six inch minimum for counting. I tested a pheasant tail nymph dropper below the stimulator to no avail. For a period of time I knotted a tan pool toy to my line and combined it with a beadhead hares ear, and ultra zug bug. No dice. I noticed a few tiny blue winged olives at one point and swapped the ultra zug bug for a RS2. This change was also in vain.

Toward the end of my time on the river I tested a size 16 gray caddis, and this yielded looks, refusals, temporary connections, and a few tiny fish; but nothing that could be counted. It was cloudy for much of the afternoon, although thirty minutes of sunshine appeared around 3PM, and rises ended during this time. When the clouds reappeared, I observed a few tiny BWO’s, some caddis, and two PMD spinners; but these sparse populations of insects provided no relief from the frustration of interacting with very small trout.

Osprey Nest Along Colorado River Below Shadow Mountain

The Colorado River below Shadow Mountain was very convenient, and I managed two reasonable sized cutbows, but the afternoon was rather disappointing. The highlight was standing under a dead pine tree with a huge osprey nest perched on the tip. During our stay we enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the nearby osprey family.

Fish Landed: 2

Cache la Poudre River – 07/13/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Pingree Park area.

Cache la Poudre River 07/13/2017 Photo Album

A cannot mask my true feelings. I was very disappointed with my fishing time on the Arkanas River during the early part of this week. After spectacular edge fishing on the Yampa and Eagle Rivers, I was certain to experience similar results on the Arkansas, but I never achieved close to the same level of success. I originally planned to camp at Vallie Bridge on Wednesday night and spend Thursday on a different section of the river in Bighorn Sheep Canyon, but after landing only three fish in 2.5 hours on Wednesday afternoon, I cut my losses and returned to Denver.

My new plan incorporated another day trip to the Cache la Poudre River in the canyon west of Ft. Collins. July 7 was a memorable day, and I was certain the flows would remain elevated, and hatches would multiply through the remainder of July. I needed a solid day to restore my confidence.

I departed Denver at 8:10 on Thursday morning, but I was delayed for fifteen to twenty minutes by a four car accident on northbound I25. The total trip ended up taking roughly two hours and thirty minutes, and I finally stepped into the water with my Loomis five weight by 11:00AM. The flows indeed remained nearly the same as I encountered on July 7, and the weather was quite pleasant although a bit too bright and warm for ideal fishing conditions. The high temperature reached 75, and clouds rarely made an appearance.

As I fished the north side of the river in the Pingree Park section on July 7, I was in awe of the shelf pools and bank pockets on the south shore, but the elevated stream velocity made a crossing impossible. On Thursday when I approached Pingree Park, I decided to cross the bridge and explore the south side of the river. Perhaps I could work my way up from the bridge to the appealing water that I observed on the previous Friday. I was pleased to find a rough dirt road that led to the right, and this placed me in a small circular dirt parking lot. I made this my beginning point, and once I was prepared, I found a scant trail and bashed through some bushes to reach the edge of the river.

Deep Colors on This Brown Trout

I began my quest for Cache la Poudre trout with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead salvation. This alignment evolved into my standard starting offering, but on this day the fat Albert attracted looks without bites, and this distracted the fish from the trailing nymphs. After twenty minutes of frustration, I decided to downsize with a smaller yellow fly. I chose a size 12 light yellow stimulator, and I fished it solo. This move paid off somewhat, as I landed a fine twelve inch brown that smashed the stimulator confidently. I was beginning to feel a nice rhythm, when I encountered a large vertical rock wall. The main current of the river deflected off the upstream side of the rock, so it was impossible to wade past it, and I elected to climb a steep bank to circle around the impasse.

Nice Shelf Pool on the Cache la Poudre

It was noon, and the rock offered a comfortable spot to eat lunch, so I sat on a natural bench and ate and observed. As I mentioned previously, the main current of the river bashed into the rock and deflected right and left. The water that curved to the right curled around and flowed back along the south bank and formed a nice little eddy. Initially I did not see any fish, but as I continued to stare, a brown trout appeared in a small pocket where the current curled and began to flow upstream. Next I spotted a very nice dark outline of a fish that hovered just below the surface and fed aggressively on an unknown source of food, where the reverse current passed close to another vertical rock wall. Finally I spotted another fish that appeared twice near the cushion where the heavy current bounced off the rock that I was sitting on.

After lunch I recorded a quick movie of the scenario, and then I cautiously descended along the large rock opposite my lunch position. Two small trees blocked my access to the beach next to the reverse current, and the decent rainbow that I noticed in a feeding rhythm hovered five feet away. Unfortunately even the slight movement of parting the small branches to enable a cast caused the beauty to flee, and I was now left with two targets in the vicinity. I slid through a narrow gap between the branches and lobbed a backhand cast to the pocket where I spotted the brown trout. I held my breath, and the yellow bodied fish glided toward my fly and then drifted back to a holding position. My yellow stimulator was irrefutably snubbed!

In a last ditch effort to convert on my productive lunch time observation, I backhanded another cast to the seam on the edge of the main current. The bushy attractor danced toward the deflection point and then curled along the base of my lunch rock, and just as it began to track back toward me, a fish rocketed to the surface and confidently smashed the stimulator. I set the hook and quickly landed another twelve inch brown trout. One for three is a good average in baseball, but I expect more from myself on a trout stream. Nevertheless I loved the sight fishing and relished the challenge of devising an approach to fish in difficult positions.

I released the feisty brown trout and paused to evaluate my next predicament. An even larger wall of rock blocked my upstream path. I was not about to give up on my goal of working up along the south bank to the attractive water across from my fishing position on July 7. I climbed back to the top of the bank near my lunch rock and followed a trail that angled up a steep slope. When I reached the top, I noticed a thin trail that traversed a steep slope. The area was covered in pine needles, and experience taught me that they are quite slippery and provide zero traction. I decided to make the traverse, and I paused with each step to ensure that I had solid footing, and I grabbed every available solid branch or rock as a safety precaution. It was a tense crossing, but eventually I slid down the bank to the edge of the water. Just above me was another narrow shelf pool that was created by a more formidable rock wall! Since I risked my life and expended significant energy, I lobbed some casts to the marginal shelf pool, but the stimulator was ignored, and the glare and shadows made it nearly impossible to follow the fly.

The high flows prevented me from wading along the next monster obstruction, and I gazed upward and estimated that the top of the rock cliff was eighty feet above me. The climb was nearly vertical, and I did not pack rock climbing gear, so I reversed my course across the slippery traverse, and then headed back to the car. My plan to fish the south bank was in serious jeopardy, and in fact my good sense finally made it an unfulfilled objective.

Water Like This Gets the Juices Flowing

I threw my gear in the back of the Santa Fe and crossed the bridge to CO 14 and turned left and parked at the first wide pullout along the westbound lane. Plan B was now in progress. I ambled east along the highway a short distance and then found a gradual path to the river a short distance above the Pingree Park access road bridge. The water on the north side of the river at this point was much more conducive to fishing, as the slope of the streambed was gradual, and this produced more riffles, runs and pockets of moderate depth. I spent the next hour prospecting the attractive structure with the yellow stimulator, and the fish counter climbed to six. Several of the landed fish were decent by Poudre standards, but I sensed that I was covering a section of the river that should have produced more fish.

On my previous visit the time period between noon and three provided the most intense action on nymphs, and I did not wish to miss out on a repeat event, so I returned to the dry/dropper method. Unlike the initial time period on Thursday, however, I topped the lineup with a size 10 tan pool toy and dangled a hares ear and salvation beneath it. The change did in fact improve my catch rate, but the size of the landed fish was a bit diminished. The dry/dropper approach incremented the fish count to eleven, and at this point I approached a gorgeous pool and eddy. A secondary current angled along a sandy slope and created a four foot deep run before the current deflected off a huge protruding rock. A nice wide pool extended for twenty-five feet from the run toward the main river, and I was positioned in the river to cast back to the run and pool. I spotted a couple rises, but there was no consistency, and the fish were ignoring my hopper and nymphs.

Green Drake Time

Suddenly a large drake mayfly cruised skyward in front of me, and I could barely contain my joy. Sporadic aggressive rises and a drake appearance suggested a green drake emergence. I did not waste any time, as I removed the dry/dropper flies and chose a size 14 green drake comparadun from my fly box. Western green drakes are my favorite hatch, and I rejoice on the rare occasions I encounter this large mayfly. My first cast was not auspicious, as a fish rose and refused the fly at the top of the run. I brought the fly to my hand and preened the deer hair and pushed it back to create a more realistic image of the large mayfly wing. Having adjusted the fly in a manner more suitable to imitating the slanted wings of a mayfly, I lobbed a short cast to the middle of the run, and instantly a thirteen inch brown trout materialized and inhaled my offering with confidence. Needless to say I was very excited over this fortuitous turn of events.

One of the Better Fish on Thursday

I snapped a photo and released the prize, and on the third of several casts later to nearly the same spot, a carbon copy brown trout performed the same confident gulp of the comparadun. This was the boost I needed, and I proceeded to prospect along the north bank with the large western green drake imitation. Despite its size the comparadun was difficult to track because of the olive body and brown tails that blended with the stream color, nevertheless I boosted the fish tally from eleven to eighteen on the strength of the sparse hatch and the comparadun. During this time period I spotted a maximum of four drakes in the air, so I was not benefiting from a dense mass emergence. I learned in the past, however, that fish tune into green drakes very quickly and do not miss an opportunity to ingest the large morsels. The same workhorse comparadun remained on my line and accounted for all the fish in spite of some fairly rough fish hook extraction techniques.

Wide Body

By 3:30 I no longer observed even a stray drake in the air, and I covered a fair distance without so much as a look or refusal. I encountered a very appealing pocket water segment, and I surmised that the dry/dropper might be more appropriate for the fast brawling channel ahead of me. I reverted to the pool toy hopper, hares ear and salvation; and I resumed my prospecting ways using a three casts and move approach. This change in tactics enabled me to inflate the fish count to twenty-three by 4:30. By now I fished beyond my starting point on July 7, and I remembered that the nature of the river shifted to deep pools among large rocks, and I my state of mind did not lend itself to aggressive wading and rock climbing.

Purple Bells

I hooked the salvation nymph in my rod guide, climbed the rocky bank, and hiked along the shoulder of CO 14 until I reached the car. I was surprised by the distance that I covered on my return, and I estimated that I waded .75 miles after my move. The Cache la Poudre River once again delivered a superb outing on Thursday. The canyon setting was spectacular, the water was high and clear and cold, and I had the Pingree Park section to myself. I relished my first green drake encounter of the year, and my comparadun fooled seven willing eaters. The size of the fish was solid by Cache la Poudre standards with five or six brown trout measuring in the twelve to thirteen inch range. I could not be more pleased with my day. The greatest impediment to frequent returns is the ridiculous volume of traffic on interstate 25, and the frequent choke points resulting from construction.

Fish Landed: 23