Monthly Archives: June 2021

Rio Grande River – 06/30/2021

Time: 9:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: South Fork to Hanah Lane

Rio Grande River 06/30/2021 Photo Album

Wednesday was our third day of guided float fishing with Brandon of Cutthroat Anglers. The weather forecast projected temperatures and precipitation similar to Monday and Tuesday, so I wore my waders on board the raft, but ultimately the day was warmer with no rain, and for the first time on the trip I fished with just my fishing shirt and no extra layers. The river on the stretch downstream from South Fork was larger and wider than the Monday and Tuesday beats, but it was very clear and perfect for fly fishing. I manned the bow position in the morning, and Dave G. and I switched positions at 1PM after a lunch break. During our drive to Creede on Sunday I noticed the symptoms of a sore throat, as swallowing created a catching feeling. On Wednesday afternoon I developed a persistent tickle in my throat that caused intermittent coughing. Fortunately the early stages of a cold progressed slowly, and the first two days of the trip elapsed mostly symptom free, but Wednesday signaled the onset of a more severe stage of a summer cold.

Wide Riffles

I was plagued by poor casting technique for much of the morning, as I was over zealous and failed to allow the double dry flies to extend enough on the backcast. This resulted in a significant number of snarls, where the leader on the trailing fly wrapped around the forward fly. The tangles were not severe, but I spent a significant amount of time unwinding the twisted leader, and this subtracted from the time my fly was on the water, when I held the advantageous forward position in the raft. In spite of this angler error, I landed fourteen trout by the time of our 1:00PM changeover. Similar to Tuesday most of the landed fish were vividly colored wild brown trout in the fifteen inch range. They battled valiantly, and Brandon warned me not to count them before they were secure in my net.

Showing Off

Because Wednesday was our last day, we planned an earlier end point in order to jump start our four plus hour return drive to Eagle, CO, and this explained the earlier than normal lunch time. At around 11:00AM a dense hatch of gray drakes commenced. This aquatic insect event caught the attention of the Rio Grande trout population. Brandon purchased a batch of gray drake cripples the previous evening based on the recommendation of some local guides, and these flies were close approximations of the naturals, because the trout crushed them. In fact, we agreed to eat only half of our lunches to take advantage of the long lasting emergence.

Gray Drake Cripple Rocked

Rising trout remained a sporadic occurrence in the afternoon, but our prospecting attracted interest on a regular basis. As we drifted past the heads of riffles, we encountered clouds of mating gray drakes, and they bounced off our faces and glasses. I mention this only to emphasize the abundance of gray drakes on the South Fork section.

After lunch the drake population waned a bit, but eager eaters remained, and we continued to pick off trout with regularity. I increased the fish count from fourteen to twenty-four from my rear position in the raft, and I concentrated on better casting form. This resulted in my flies spending more time on the water and less time in monofilament snarls. We fished double dries all day, and the gray drake cripple was far and away the top performer. During the afternoon time frame, Brandon switched us to purple hazes, and the size 12 parachute versions contributed additional netted fish.

Typical Scene

Wednesday was another excellent day on the Rio Grande. Steady action kept me focused, and most of the trout were hard fighting brown trout in the fifteen inch or greater range. Compared to the first two days, we caught more fish from bubble lines five feet or greater from the bank or wide riffle sections over cobble bottoms with a depth of two feet. The drop in flows and wider river bed clearly allowed the resident trout space to spread out and feed on the abundant quantity of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies.

Twenty Inch Beauty

My most vivid memory of the day and trip was created by a twenty inch bruiser that put a substantial sag in Brandon’s large net. We were casting to nice pockets tight to the left bank, and I was popping short casts into a stairstep series of pockets for short, quick drifts. On the sixth such flick, the cripple floated ahead of the point fly and crept in front of a large exposed boulder. Suddenly a large head and then body emerged from the shadow of the large rock, and the cripple disappeared. It was a very visual take and the highlight of my day. Needless to say, I was quite impressed with the Rio Grande River during our three day stay at the end of June 2021.

Fish Landed: 24

Friends Checking Us Out

Rio Grande River – 06/29/2021

Time: 9:30AM – 6:00PM

Location: Sneaky boat launch to below Deep Creek ramp near Creede, CO

Rio Grande River 06/29/2021 Photo Album

The weather on Tuesday was similar to Monday with highs in the low sixties. I wore my waders for the second day in a row, and I was comfortable all day. Between 1:00PM and 2:00PM some storm clouds gathered, and I wore an extra layer for thirty minutes, until the sun reappeared. For most of the day I wore a fleece and raincoat.

This Is a Boat Launch?

Could Be an Ad for a Toyota Truck

Once again our guide was Brandon from Cutthroat Anglers. The river was in fine condition, and we launched the inflatable raft at Sneaky Boat Launch, a crude rutted area that was barely more than a slanted meadow bank. This put in was upriver from Creede, CO, and consequently the river carried less volume.

Tuesday evolved into a day just as productive as Monday. My fish count was twenty-six, but the size of Tuesday’s catch was on average larger than Monday. Other than four brown trout barely above the counting threshold, the remainder of the netted fish were easily within the fourteen to eighteen inch range. I landed four hard charging rainbows, and the remainder were robust brown trout. These fish were dogged fighters, and they put a significant strain on my arm.

Zoomed in on the Purple Body

Fuzzy Wuzzy?

Dave G. and I registered at least three doubles, when we were both hooked up at the same time. The upper section was somewhat smaller than the day one stretch, and this created a more intimate feel. I manned the stern position in the morning and switched to the bow at 1:30PM. Sixteen of my landed fish were recorded in the morning, and ten reached my net in the afternoon. Arm and body fatigue played a significant role in my afternoon fishing experience.

Nice One

During the afternoon I connected with three very strong fish that streaked for logs and branches, and my efforts to prevent them from reaching their destination resulted in break offs. A thirty fish day was easily attainable with better luck and skill. Dave G. and I spent the entire day tossing dry flies. The most productive of these flies were a size 14 purple haze and a fuzzy wuzzy foam surface fly. The fuzzy wuzzy imitated both a grasshopper and stonefly. Twice during our drift I witnessed a lumbering egg laying stonefly, as it crash landed on the water. The egg laying proved short lived, as ravenous trout crushed the large morsels of meat in confident swirls.

Swallows Everywhere

Before lunch quite a few PMD’s, caddis, and drakes made an appearance, and I observed the most rises of my cumulative time on the Rio Grande. I spotted four or five green drakes, and I was tempted to try one of my parachute style flies, but I stuck with Brandon’s expert recommendations.

Another Prime Rainbow

Tuesday represented another outstanding day on the Rio Grande River. All the necessary elements of superb fly fishing were present; cool weather, cloud cover, clear water, large and hungry wild trout, insect hatches, productive flies, and expert guiding. Bring on day three.

Fish Landed: 26

Rio Grande River – 06/28/2021

Time: 9:30AM – 6:00PM

Location: Creede, CO to Palisade Campground

Rio Grande River 06/28/2021 Photo Album

My friend, Dave Gaboury, and I scheduled three days of guided float fishing with Cutthroat Anglers on the Rio Grande River in the Creede, CO area, and on Sunday, June 27 we completed the five hour drive from Denver. We arrived at The Grove in Creede on Sunday at around 6:00PM. MIchelle of Cutthroat Anglers was our chef for the three days, and she prepared our breakfasts and dinners at the modern cabin in addition to making box lunches for our daily float trips.

Monday Morning

We met our guide, Brandon, at 8:00AM on Monday morning, and we were on the river by 9:30AM. Monday was a cool day with a high in the low sixties after a decent amount of rain on Sunday night. I wore my waders and wading boots in case of afternoon thunderstorms, but they never materialized. Nevertheless, I was only a bit warm for a short window in the afternoon. The flows on the Rio Grande at Wagon Wheel Gap were 900 CFS, and the river was very clear. Conditions seemed perfect to this newbie to the Rio Grande River.

Some Whitewater

We began our morning with double dry flies, but this approach yielded no success, so we switched to dry/dropper rigs that featured a chubby Chernobyl and pheasant tail nymph on a jig hook. The move to dry/dropper paid dividends, and we began scoring fish with some regularity on the pheasant tail. By 11:00AM some pale morning duns appeared, and Brandon switched us back to double dries with a pale morning dun comparadun paired with a chubby Chernobyl. My fish count surged to twenty-one by the time we paused for lunch at 1:30PM at Wagon Wheel Gap.

PMD Comparadun

Chubby Chernobyl on the Point

After lunch Dave G. and I switched positions in the boat, and we continued presenting double dries. During this afternoon time frame the most productive fly was a size 12 parachute adams. The water type that delivered the most fish was tight to the bank with moderate depth and velocity. Casting to bank side pockets next to large rocky structure was particularly advantageous. All the trout landed were browns except for two rainbows. The standard size of the fish was 13 – 14 inches, but I also landed a decent number of trout in the fifteen to eighteen inch range, and Dave G boated an eighteen inch beauty.

Showing Off a Fine Brown Trout

A Double!

Monday was a blast, and a thirty-three fish day was certainly a healthy introduction to floating the Rio Grande River. As I curled under the blanket listening to the rain outside our modern cabin on Monday evening, I was filled with anticipation for what Tuesday might bring.

Fish Landed: 33

Entering More of a Canyon

Eagle River – 06/25/2021

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Edwards Rest Area

Eagle River 06/25/2021 Photo Album

Two unproductive outings on the Uncompahgre River this week introduced a severe case of self doubt to my mental state. I needed a solid day of success to restore my fly fishing confidence. Could Friday, June 25 be the turnaround?

A couple weeks ago an Instagram friend informed me that he returned to Colorado after a couple year transfer to another state. He had a week off, before he launched his new job and wanted to know, if I was interested in a day of fly fishing. I was already committed to our trip to Ridgway State Park from Sunday through Wednesday, and Theo Thursday was an ironclad and highly anticipated obligation for Thursday, so I replied that Friday was my one open date. My Instagram friend accepted Friday as our fishing day; however, on Thursday evening he realized that he scheduled dog training for his rescue dog at 10AM on Friday morning. I considered a half day scenario at a front range stream, but ultimately I replied and asked for a raincheck. I scheduled a full day of fishing, and I decided to follow through with my plan.

The destination that intrigued me was the Eagle River. Toward the end of my last outing there on June 17 I enjoyed decent success with a double dry fly presentation. Meanwhile, the fly shop reports cited heavy caddis activity and pale morning dun emergences, and my friend, Dave G, who lives in Eagle, CO informed me that he encountered a thick caddis presence on streamside vegetation during an evening visit. The flows remained at 380 CFS, and the high temperature for Friday was forecast to peak at 67 degrees. The confluence of hatches, cool temperatures, and cold, high flows convinced me that the Eagle River was the place to be on Friday.

Good Place to Start


I made the trip in two hours and parked at the Edwards Rest Stop. I wadered up and fitted together the four sections of my Sage four weight rod, and I was positioned along the edge of the river ready to begin my day of fishing by 10:40AM. I was itching to try a double dry offering, but since deep pocket water was in my near term future, I chose a tan ice dub chubby Chernobyl and trailed a salvation nymph. On the very first cast to a narrow bankside pocket, a twelve inch rainbow snatched the salvation, and I was off and running. I persisted with the dry/dropper between 10:40AM and noon, and the fish count rested on two, after a very nice brown trout grabbed an emerald caddis pupa from a mid-river pocket. Two fish in 1.5 hours was not an outstanding catch rate, but it certainly surpassed five hours of zero success in the Ridgway area. Just before lunch I witnessed a couple refusals to the chubby Chernobyl, so I swapped it for a yellow Letort hopper (ignored) and then a size 10 classic Chernobyl ant. The Chernobyl attracted the interest of a decent fish, and I hooked it for a second or two before it eluded the penetration.

Before Lunch

Experimenting with the double dry approach remained foremost in my mind, and while I munched my sandwich, I noticed a wave of swallows, as they swooped across the river ingesting some sort of bug food. What could they be eating? I guessed that caddis were their target, and I removed the dry/dropper flies and knotted a peacock hippie stomper and size 16 deer hair caddis to my line. I felt confident that this combination would arouse the interest of the Eagle River trout, but after I covered seventy yards of pocket water, the fish count remained locked on two. I paused and observed, and a small pale morning dun floated skyward near my position. This emergence transpired right after a pair of refusals to the deer hair caddis, and I concluded that the fish were looking for upright wings and not down wings. I switched the caddis for a cinnamon size 18 comparadun, and in a short amount of time the fish count increased to three, after a spunky thirteen inch rainbow sipped the comparadun.

I Love the Background Color

For the next hour I moved steadily through a section of prime pocketwater and prospected with the hippie stomper and comparadun, although after getting blanked in a quality spot, I exchanged the cinnamon comparadun for a size 16 light gray version. The stomper and comparadun combination clicked with the Eagle River residents, and the fish counter climbed from three to seven in short order. Quite a few of the PMD chompers were nice rainbows in the twelve to fourteen inch range, and I was getting into the kind of nice rhythm that instilled confidence.

Nice Width

Of course, change is a constant, and after releasing number seven I heard some thunder and scanned the southwestern sky, where a large gray mass of moisture was gathering. I was on a roll, and I was not anxious to take a break to dig out my raincoat; but, of course, that was a mistake. The onset of rain was not gradual, and instead dumped from the sky in sheets. I scrambled to the shoreline and removed my frontpack and backpack and camera and dug out my raincoat, but my fishing shirt absorbed a fair amount of moisture in the process. I stood on the bank and watched the heavy rain descend on the river, but it only lasted for five minutes before a patch of blue sky in the west foretold another change.

I returned to the river and made a few more casts to the attractive pockets above me, and another rainbow sipped the comparadun to boost the catch total to eight. At this point I ran out of promising water, and a severe chill traveled up my spine, as the evaporation of the wet fishing shirt created a cooling effect. I decided to return to the Santa Fe for another layer. I marked my exit point, marched back to the parking lot, grabbed my hooded fleece, and returned to the path, where I exited. I skipped around the next section of wide and shallow riffles and turned on a well worn path to a long run and pool across from a high dirt bank. Generally this stretch of the river is occupied, but apparently the storm scared off the angling population. I made some casts along the left side of the long run, and this generated two refusals to the comparadun.


Lots of Pink on This One

My mind evaluated the situation, and I concluded that the storm brought an end to the pale morning dun hatch. The overcast sky and cloud cover suggested that I convert to the size 16 olive-brown caddis, and that is what I did. Caddis tend to become more active in low light conditions, and the afternoon gloom certainly fit that description. The change proved very effective, and the fish count surged from eight to fourteen over the last 1.5 hours, as I fished another very attractive section of deep pocket water, before I ended my day at 4PM. These late afternoon fish were special, as nearly all stretched the tape between twelve and fifteen inches. Brown trout became more prevalent in this section, and two beauties in the fifteen inch range were especially prized. A couple aggressive feeders attacked the hippie stomper, but the caddis was the favored dry fly for most of this productive period of time. In addition to the netted trout, several muscular chunks streaked about the river and shed my fly, before I could gain the upper hand.

Juicy Shelf Pool

Stunning Brown Trout

What a day! I landed fourteen robust trout in six hours of fishing. A pale morning dun hatch followed by caddis madness accelerated my enjoyment, and dry fly action is always the preferred technique. I suspect that the caddis and PMD magic will persist for another week or two and be joined by yellow sallies. If the flows remain in the 200 to 400 CFS range, I will likely consider a return after my trip to the Rio Grande. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 14


West Fork of Cimmaron Creek – 06/22/2021

Time: 4:15PM – 5:00PM

Location: .5 mile from the turn off from Owl Creek Pass Road

West Fork of Cimmaron Creek 06/22/2021 Photo Album

West Fork

I spent forty-five minutes on the West Fork after getting blanked on the Middle Fork of Cimmaron Creek. It was a bit wider, slightly clearer, and a degree less gradient; but I experienced the same result. No fish. I exchanged the hippie stomper for a pool toy as the top fly for a different look and added a salvation nymph as the second nymph after the prince. This modification made no difference. Similar to the Middle Fork the gradient was steep; and, thus, at high flows the creek offered few, if any, slack water lies. The scenery was spectacular, and Jane and I enjoyed exploring a never before visited part of Colorado. The Uncompahgre River Valley humbled this fly fisherman.

Fish Landed: 0

Middle Fork of Cimmaron Creek – 06/22/2021

Time: 3:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Upstream from the trailhead

Middle Fork of Cimmaron Creek 06/22/2021 Photo Album

I was frustrated by 3.5 hours of fishing on the Uncompahgre River, so Jane and I drove to Riggs Fly Shop in Ridgway, CO. We spoke to Heather, and I bought a tapered leader, five flies and a map of Ouray County. I asked Heather where I could go for some small stream fishing, and Heather suggested the three forks of Cimmaron Creek.

High Flows and High Gradient

Jane and I drove directly to the forks by way of Owl Creek Pass. It took us forty-five minutes on a dirt road that was reasonably improved. We checked out the West Fork first, but I was intrigued by the Middle Fork, because it was at the end of the road, and there was a hiking trail for Jane. We moved on to the Middle Fork.

Not Improving

The scenery in the area was spectacular, but the Middle Fork was still running high from snowmelt. It looked like a churning cascade over the entire distance that I fished with only an occasional marginal pocket along the bank. I cut my losses after thirty minutes, and we returned to the West Fork. I deployed a hippie stomper and prince nymph on the Middle Fork, but I never sniffed the sign of a fish.

Fish Landed: 0

Uncompahgre River – 06/22/2021

Time: 9:30AM – 11:30AM

Location: Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Loop H

Uncompahgre River 06/22/2021 Photo Album

Tuesday was my designated day to fish, and since we were within a few miles of the Uncompahgre River tailwater, I decided to give it another chance, although I was very apprehensive after Monday evening. I talked to several other anglers, and they all emphasized the need to fish deep and along the bottom in this temperamental river.

After Tuesday’s 1.5 hour skunking, I decided to change tactics on Tuesday morning. The bottom release water was extremely cold, and with minimal insect activity to bring fish to the surface, I concluded that fishing deep was the answer. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, other anglers confirmed this.

Tough River

I rigged my Sage One five weight with a New Zealand strike indicator and split shot and then attached a size 12 prince nymph as the upper fly. The prince remained in place over the entire two hours of fishing; however, the bottom fly rotated among a hares ear nymph, bright green caddis pupa, orange egg fly, super nova, pheasant tail nymph, sparkle wing RS2, salad spinner, and salvation nymph. The fly change circus was for naught, as the fish count remained locked on zero at 11:30AM. A guide and two clients came by and offered the unsolicited advice that a small brown mayfly nymph size 20-22 had been effective for them. This bit of information prompted the super nova, pheasant tail and sparkle wing RS2 trials on my line.

At 11:30PM I surrendered to the Uncompahgre River and sent Jane a text message with my satellite phone. She arrived within minutes, and I ended my torture session on the Ridgway State Park tailwater. Frustration ruled.

Fish Landed: 0

Uncompahgre River – 06/21/2021

Time: 7:00PM – 8:30PM

Location: Pa-Co-Chu-Puk area

Uncompahgre River 06/21/2021 Photo Album

In May Jane and I made some camping reservations at various Colorado state parks. Ridgeway State Park was one of these, and we chose the time period from June 20 through June 23. We were surprised to realize that June 20 arrived much sooner than expected.

We loaded the car with our camping, kayaking and fishing gear on Sunday morning and departed for the state park in southwestern Colorado. We visited the area in the 1990’s, when the kids were young, and we had favorable impressions of the experience. Before departing on the 5.5 hour drive, I downloaded an audiobook, Boundary Waters, by William Krueger Kent. This proved to be a solid choice, and we listened to the entire twelve hour novel during our road trip.

When we arrived at the state park on Sunday, we quickly sought our reserved campsite. My heart sank, when I realized that we reserved a walk-in site in the Pa-Co-Chu-Puk section. Jane and I parked and crossed the bridge and walked to our chosen site, and we were disappointed to discover it at the uphill tip of the walk-in loop. We estimated that it would take six to eight trips to lug our camping gear to the top of the hill, so we considered our options. We quickly decided to visit the park office to explain our dilemma with the hope that an alternative was available. We traveled south to the main office and visitor center at Dutch Charlie only to find that the office was closed, and the doors were locked. We turned away to walk to the car, when a woman opened the door to ask if she could help. We were overwhelmed by her kindness, and we entered the office and explained our situation. The park office employee quickly went on the reservation system and found us a site in the Dakota Terraces Campground. Since the campground was full, we guessed that the park reserved a spot for our type of situation. We paid an upcharge of $24, since site 23 had an electrical hookup. We were more than willing to pay this small fee to avoid the chore of lugging our car load of camping gear up a long hill. The site was devoid of any shade, but we had a canopy and were not in a position to be choosey.

Slack Water Along the Left Bank

On Monday Jane and I completed a very challenging six mile hike in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. When we returned to the campground, we enjoyed happy hour and dinner, and then I asked if I could fish for a few hours before dark in the tailwater at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk. Jane agreed, and we both made the drive to the northern area of the park along the river. The flows were in the 250 CFS range, and the water was clear, cold and a bit high. I wore my wet wading gear and rigged my Sage four weight for a few hours of fly fishing. The air temperature remained quite warm after a ninety degree day.

Pools Created by Stream Improvements

I fished the entire 1.5 hours with a chubby Chernobyl trailing an assortment of flies including a hares ear nymph, salvation nymph, bright green caddis pupa, pink San Juan worm, and a prince nymph. I never saw a fish or the sign of a fish.

We parked at the end of the G loop, and I cut perpendicular to the river from the parking area. I attempted to get close to the downstream border of the state park and away from theĀ  heavily pressured area at the footbridge by H loop. I was a tough 1.5 hours.

Fish Landed: 0

Eagle River – 06/17/2021

Time: 9:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle and then at the Edwards Rest Stop

Eagle River 06/17/2021 Photo Album

Thursday, June 6 was one of those days when my penchant for persistence led to frustration. I always believed in the motto, try and try again, and that belief probably resulted in significant arm fatigue. Read on for an explanation.

After a rewarding day on the Eagle River on Wednesday, I drove to the Hornsilver Campground south of Minturn and set up my tent for a one night stay over. When I arrived, I had the pick of the ten campsites, although a RV pulled in on the opposite side from me later. The temperature remained quite warm, as I assembled the tent and prepared my dinner, and that is quite a statement for a place that historically produced frost in August.

I woke up at 6:30AM on Wednesday, and the air was quite chilly. Frost was not present on the gas stove, but I wore my stocking hat and down parka for the first hour, and the dashboard read 47 degrees, when I departed for my day of fishing. Instant oatmeal, hot tea, a cup of yogurt and a granola bar served as my nourishment, as I pondered my destination for Thursday. I was reluctant to return to the same section of the river as Wednesday, even though I had a hunch, that it might have been the best option. Instead I moved up river to a stretch that I fished last year between Wolcott and Eagle. Two cars were parked in the space across from the designated entry point, so I was wary of competition, but the concern was without basis, as I only spotted a guide and his client significantly downstream from where I began.

Number One From Here


For Thursday’s adventure I rigged my Sage One five weight, and although I debated wet wading, I opted for the more conservative path and pulled on my waders. I hiked for .2 mile to a spot where a log extended into the water to block the rushing current. Based on a hunch that the trout might be looking for a yellow body such as a grasshopper or golden stonefly, I elected to tie on a size 8 fat Albert, and below that I placed a green-black Pat’s rubberlegs and a generic brown nymph. I made a few of the latter flies during my heart recovery, and the pattern was highlighted in the Pennsylvania Angler magazine.

Remarkably the brown nymph worked, and I picked up a respectable brown trout in the early going. I moved on and dropped down to the waterway at each place, where the river deepened and the current slowed along the bank. I did not dwell and moved along quickly with a cast or two for quick searching. I remembered a long section of pocket water near the end of the public section, and I was targeting that area for more concentrated coverage. During the early period I noted one refusal to the fat Albert in addition to the decent brown trout, and an ounce of concern tempered my carryover optimism from the previous day. I skipped a fifty yard section of wide shallow riffles and then probed a place, where a fraction of the river was diverted into an irrigation ditch. Nothing was happening, so I began a series of fly changes. I swapped the brown nymph for a salvation and eventually replaced that with a bright green caddis pupa. The salvation nymph anticipated a pale morning dun hatch, and the caddis pupa was a response to the preponderance of small caddis on the streamside willows.

Produced a Fish

I rounded a bend, and the extended pocket water was in front of me. The river flooded the willows on my side of the river, and I began methodically casting to all the deep troughs and pockets. The fish count elevated from one to three with the addition of two brown trout, one of which extended to a foot, but the area seemed to suggest better results. Eventually I reached the white private property sign, so I reversed direction and carefully slid through the shallow water that flooded the willows and returned to the car. My watch displayed 12:30PM, as I threw my gear in the back of the Forte and drove to another location.

Where to next? I decided to explore the area along the right side of US 6 just below the Horn Ranch Wildlife Area, and I grabbed the second large pullout. A young lady was on the tailgate of a hatchback preparing to fish , but I remained set up from the morning, so I slid down a very steep bank and then meandered downstream to a very attractive wide riffle of moderate depth. Surely this fine swath of water would reverse my fortunes. I found a nice small beach spot and sat on a rock to consume my lunch and observe the river for signs of insect activity. As I was finishing up my lunch, I heard the zing of a fly line, and fifteen yards above me stood another angler. He chucked his line four or five times and stripped his fly back, and it was evident that he was covering the water with a streamer. Eventually he spotted me at my lunch spot, and he was very apologetic and said that I was camouflaged in my little retreat. I invited him to fish on through, but he said he was waiting for a woman, and I assumed that was the young lady putting her waders on, when I arrived.

Red Cliff Area

I truly did not mind his presence, but he was a gentleman and departed, and after lunch I resumed my assault on the Eagle River trout. I covered the wide riffle thoroughly with no sign of fish. I lingered in this section of the Eagle River for an hour and a half, as I worked my way upstream. Despite some very fine pools, pockets and runs I was unable to entice so much as a refusal. This is where the penchant for persistence alluded to in the first paragraph tripped me up. The air temperature spiked, and the sun beat down on me and the river relentlessly. There was no sign of insect activity, and I would have been smart to cut my losses, but that is not my nature. Finally I reigned in my insanity and hoofed it back to the car. I debated surrendering to the heat for the day, but then I reasoned that a move upriver might yield better results.

Looking Up

I threw my gear in the back of the hatchback and proceeded to the Edwards Rest Stop. This is a favorite of mine from previous years, and I knew that it offered a plentiful amount of pocketwater, and I knew that the related aeration is favored by trout in warm conditions. I grabbed my fly rod and headed down river to near the bottom of the extended fast water section, and on my second cast I hooked and netted a twelve inch brown trout. Clearly I should have made this move earlier and not been a slave to the try harder mantra.

Unfortunately the early good fortune at the rest stop was temporary, and I encountered the same lack of action, as I thoroughly waded among the exposed rocks and prospected all the viable deep fish holding lairs. My spike in optimism waned, and by 3:00PM I exited and circled around a long run and pool that was occupied by another fisherman. Another section of pockets existed above the long run, and that was my destination. The rock garden is very difficult to wade, and I am sure that condition keeps the pressure down compared to the obvious places such as the long run and pool below me. I carefully wedged my boots between some large submerged rocks and dropped a cast into a long pocket behind an exposed boulder, and on the fifth cast the chubby Chernobyl dipped, and I felt the weight of a rambunctious rainbow trout. In fact, it was so rambunctious that it shed the hook in less than a second. It had been quite a while since the last brown trout, and I was very upset with botching this opportunity.

Source of Number Five

I moved upstream a bit and repositioned myself to cover a couple pockets close to the left bank. These were fairly marginal, but the first cast to the left produced a long look at the chubby chernobyl. I now knew the home of a decent brown trout. I shifted gears and tossed another short cast to a tiny slot directly above me. What happened? A slightly bigger brown trout rose to sniff the chubby. I was drawing the attention of some nice fish, but I was unable to close the deal. I pondered the situation and decided it was time to go to a dry fly.

I removed the dry/dropper flies and knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then added a size 16 deer hair caddis on a six inch dropper. Were these fish jaded by the chubby, or would they respond to something different? It did not take long for me to have my answer. On the first cast to the left, the thirteen inch brown trout slashed the caddis, and I was attached to an unhappy camper. Nevertheless, I managed to slide the brown in my net, and I was very pleased with my success. I snapped some photos and turned my attention to the larger brown directly above me. I could still see it in a deep and narrow space between two larger rocks at the tail of a short faster run. I flicked the double dry above the target, and its tail twitched, but that was extent of the response. I was convinced that this wary critter was not going to eat my fly, but on the second drift it grabbed the trailing caddis. What a thrill! This brown trout measured around fifteen inches, and after a valiant battle I guided it to my net. The contrast with the earlier part of the day was amazing.

Very Nice

Again I carefully waded upstream around a gentle bend, as I carefully evaluated each foot placement on the slippery bowling ball rocks. Here I encountered a small shelf pool bordered by a fast run on the right and the bank with an overhanging branch on the left. First I probed the inside seam on the left of the run, but that strategy yielded no result. Next I tossed a short cast to the left side, and as the two flies slid to the tail, I spotted a subtle underwater movement. I repeated the same cast, but in this pass, a trout elevated and slashed one of the flies. At the time I was uncertain which fly was consumed, but when I dipped my net below a fifteen inch cutbow, I realized that the adult caddis was once again the desired food item.

Cutbow Like the Caddis

I continued up the river for another thirty yards and managed to land another twelve inch rainbow. In addition, I foul hooked a nice brown trout on a refusal, and experienced a few other instances, where my fly was visibly avoided. What an ending to a day that seemed hopelessly undermined by heat! I moved the fish count from three to eight at the Edwards Rest Area, and I challenged my thought process for failing to react earlier. Three of the four fish extracted from the pocketwater were quality trout in the thirteen to fifteen inch range, and they responded to dry flies. I also second guessed not trying the double dry set up in the long section of pocketwater, where I first began at the rest stop. I have a strong hunch that the the high floating dries may have yielded a few more trout. I managed to convert a disappointing three fish day into a respectable eight fish outing, and for that I was pleased.

Fish Landed: 8

Eagle River – 06/16/2021

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 06/16/2021 Photo Album

With Jane off on a girl’s birthday trip to Angel Fire, NM, I was free to plan some run off fishing. Amazingly the Yampa River dropped precipitously from 650 CFS last Wednesday to 250 CFS on June 16. PMD’s were probably making a strong appearance, but the Yampa in Steamboat Springs at lower flows can be temperamental, and I had better options. Also, tubers at low flows can impact the Steamboat Springs fishing experience negatively.

Two freestone rivers falling within my favored range were the Arkansas River and the Eagle River. The Ark below Salida was 1500 CFS, and the Royal Gorge Angler website cited fish in a barrel action, but I learned that Taylor EdringtonĀ  can sometimes be prone to exaggeration.

Site of Number One

The Eagle River was falling steadily, and the gauge below Milk Creek registered daily lows of 900 CFS. I love edge fishing the Eagle at these high but falling levels, and I had a very positive experience on Sunday with Cutthroat Anglers, so I made this my destination on Wednesday.

Rafters Still Active on the Eagle River

Wednesday was another bright, hot and sunny day with a high of 100 degrees forecast for Denver. The temperature when I arrived at my chosen pullout along US 6 was already 80 degrees at 11:00AM. I considered wet wading and probably should have, but I knew I would be hiking through pickers and rough vegetation, so I stuck with waders. I can confirm that perspiration was part of my experience on Wednesday. I assembled my Sage One five weight and ambled to the edge of the river and configured my line with a tan ice dub chubby Chernobyl, olive-black Pat’s rubberlegs, and an iron sally. My first cast was in the water slightly after 11:30AM. In the half hour before lunch I landed a cutbow that gobbled the rubberlegs. This trout measured in excess of sixteen inches, and it caused a significant sag in my net.

Pat’s Rubberlegs Again


The early cutbow was an auspicious beginning to my day, and after lunch I resumed my search for robust Eagle River trout. The chubby and rubberlegs remained on my line from beginning to end, while the point fly rotated among the iron sally, salvation nymph, emerald caddis pupa, and a bright green caddis pupa. The iron sally, salvation, and bright green caddis pupa each accounted for a fish along with the chubby Chernobyl, and the remainder snatched the rubberlegs from the drift.

Scarlet Knight

Oohs and Aahs

Favored trout lies were deep troughs or slots next to large boulders and current seams. At 900 CFS the trout remained in close proximity to the bank. I expanded my rule of five drifts and move, and in several cases it took ten passes to gain the attention of the trout. I attribute this to the presence of fast, deep water, which is more forgiving of repeated casts.

Dark Knight

Now for the best part of the ten fish landed, at least five were in the fifteen to eighteen inch range. My net felt the weight of two additional cutbows of similar dimensions, as the one landed in the first thirty minutes. A couple of brown trout extended to fifteen inches, and three more fighting rainbows stretched to the thirteen to fourteen inch range. Even these slightly smaller trout were muscular bullets that tested my 3X tippet. Speaking of 3X, I learned from my guide on Sunday that the Eagle River trout are not leader shy at 1100 CFS, so I adopted his usage of heavy tippet to gain an advantage over the larger fish.

Home for Wednesday Night

Wednesday was another exceptional day on the Eagle River. Ten trout in four hours of fishing is not a torrid catch rate, but it is above average. This was accomplished despite the lack of any significant hatching activity. I did spy some small caddis on streamside rocks and vegetation, but the highly anticipated pale morning duns and yellow Sallies failed to make an appearance, and the caddis never became a major menu item. The factor that made Wednesday special was the size of the fish. All but two of the fish were bruisers in the thirteen to eighteen inch range. The average size was comparable to my netted fish on Sunday, but Wednesday’s success was accomplished without the benefit of a raft, guide, or an attention grabbing hatch. I am a happy fly angler.

Fish Landed: 10