After a challenging 2020, I looked forward to a kinder and gentler 2021, and I believe my hopes were fulfilled. You can check out the statistical summary of 2021 by clicking on the analytics tab or here. My son built this for me as a Christmas gift. Once you arrive at the top of the analytics page, click on the 2021 bar on the right side, and the analytics information will filter to only 2021. During the just completed year I enjoyed 79 fishing outings that entailed 315 hours of fly fishing. I set a new record in terms of fish caught per hour at 3.5 and managed to land 1,095 fish. 2021 was another year that included Covid fears, and I limited my fishing entirely to the state of Colorado. A low snow pack ushered in post run off fishing in early June, but the drought and low flows in freestones forced me to seek high elevation and tailwaters earlier than normal. In spite of this adversity and my advancing age, I managed to appreciate another superb year of fly fishing in 2021. Here are my top ten outings ranked in reverse order.
Mt. Sopris Looms
10. Roaring Fork River – 07/09/2021 – During 2021 I scheduled five days of guided fishing with Cutthroat Anglers through my friend Dave Gaboury. This day on the Roaring Fork River was the last of them. By this early date in July, the DOW had already announced closures on the middle section of the Colorado River, and this forced our guide to transport us to the Roaring Fork River below Basalt, CO for a float trip. Projected high temperatures in the eighties caused us to launch early, and we reached our pullout in the early afternoon as well. Our guide, Reed, periodically took water temperatures, and Dave G. and I enjoyed a magical day on a river that I seldom fished. I landed thirteen quality fish, and all displayed above average size. Several exciting moments were burned into my memory on this drift down the fabled Roaring Fork River.
Big Chunk of Food
9. Clear Creek – 08/16/2021 – If size were the only criteria for choosing a top ten stream, Clear Creek would probably never make the cut. But if other elements of consideration include scenic surroundings and spectacularly colored wild fish, then Clear Creek can make the list at number nine, as it did in 2021. I landed 31 cutthroat trout in 6.5 hours of fishing, and each landed fish was an absolute jewel. On this particular outing I discovered the enduring effectiveness of the sunk ant pattern that I tied for the first time in 2021, and that was another gratifying factor.
8. North Fork of the White River – 09/16/2021 – This was the last of four spectacular days during the second week of September in the Flattops, and I found it very difficult to rank them. On this day I landed 36 trout in 4.5 hours of fishing, and although the quantity trailed the previous two days, the average size of the fish was excellent, and I fished for fewer hours. Vivid brook trout, cutbows, and rainbows spent time in my net, and I relished every moment.
What a View!
7. Lake Creek – 09/01/2021 – I love this small high country stream, and I was thrilled to discover that it remained relatively unscathed by fires and drought, when I visited it on 09/01/2021. I hiked a good distance and persisted through rain, but 34 wild brown trout of above average size in a small stream setting made the effort worthwhile.
6. South Boulder Creek – 08/13/2021 – My post on this day begins as follows, “Early August, western green drakes, and South Boulder Creek go together like pretzels and beer.” I love pretzels, so this says a lot. My parachute green drake clicked with the hungry creek residents, and I tallied 42 gorgeous trout in 5.5 hours of fly fishing. I experienced additional fabulous days on South Boulder Creek, but this was clearly the best.
Parachute Green Drake
5. Rio Grande River – 06/28/2021 – I spent three days drifting the Rio Grande River at the end of June, and all were first rate experiences. This makes it very difficult to differentiate and rank them. 06/282021 was the first day, so perhaps it is burdened by my unfamiliarity and a tendency to place more emphasis on the more recent occurrences. At any rate, it was easily among my top five days of 2021. How can a 33 fish day not be a top contender? Most of the trout were browns in the 13 -14 inch range with a handful of beasts that extended 15 – 18 inches in the mix. What a day!
4. North Fork of the White River – 09/15/2021 – This day in September was my most productive of the year. I landed 52 trout, and each one was an absolute palette of stunning colors. Brook trout, rainbow trout, cutbow trout, and cutthroat trout spent time in my net. These wild trout were pound for pound some of the hardest fighting trout of the year, and I relished every minute of my time on the North Fork.
3. Rio Grande River – 06/29/2021 – Day 2 of guided float fishing on the Rio Grande was another winner. I landed fewer fish than on day 1, but the average size was greater, and I fished to a variety of hatches that included pale morning duns, caddis and gray drakes. We put in above Creede and fished to a take out near Creede; and, therefore, the river was narrower and more intimate. The landed fish were on average larger than what I experienced on day 1, and the purple haze was the most productive fly.
2. Rio Grande River – 06/30/2021 – I landed fewer trout on my final day of guided float fishing on the Rio Grande River than I did on days 1 and 2, but we fished for fewer hours in order to allow for an early departure for our drive back to Eagle, CO. In spite of the lower quantity of fish I rated day 3 as my number two outing of the year for several reasons. 24 fish in six hours remains a very respectable catch rate. More significantly we floated a lower section of the Rio Grande River beginning at South Fork, and this area was characterized by wide riffle sections over cobble bottoms, which translated to the fish being more disbursed than was the case in the upper sections. Our guide, Brandon, consulted with local guides and purchased a batch of gray drake cripples, and these imitations really attracted interest. We had a blast casting dries to bubble lines, moderate riffles and deep pockets among bank side structures. These factors resulted in constant action and my second most favorite outing of the 2021 year.
Love This Shot
- South Fork of the White River – 09/14/2021 – How could another fishing outing top one of the three fabulous days that I experienced on the Rio Grande River in southcentral Colorado at the end of June? In my humble opinion, my day on the South Fork of the White River accomplished this feat. Historically the South Fork has been a temperamental drainage for this avid fly fisherman. I have had decent days on this high elevation river during the last ten years, and even a few number ones, but these ventures were sprinkled among respectable but not outstanding outings. My day on 09/14/2021 coalesced into a magical time in a remote location. I landed 51 trout, and the predominant size was 12 to 14 inches. These were extremely hot fish that battled me up and down the river. Toss in three rainbows that stretched the tape to the sixteen to the seventeen inch range, and you have the makings of the number one day of the year. The setting was stunning, and I never encountered another angler during my entire stint on the river. The factor that elevates my South Fork day to number one; in addition to the setting, quantity and size of fish is the fact that I accomplished it on my own without the assistance of a guide.