Monthly Archives: May 2022

Frying Pan River – 05/31/2022

Time: 11;15AM – 3:30PM

Location: MM3 and MM11

Frying Pan River 05/31/2022 Photo Album

After a rewarding day on Sunday, I had two more nights reserved at the Comfort Inn in Carbondale, and I planned to leverage the accommodations into two more days on the Frying Pan River tailwater. The freestones in the area were out of play due to high and turbid run off conditions. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with my plans; as rain, snow and cold temperatures rolled into the Roaring Fork Valley on Sunday evening. I reviewed my Weather Underground forecast for Basalt, CO, and I noted that the rain was expected to clear on Monday morning, so I decided to hang out in my room and read, until the pavement dried. I researched pickleball in Carbondale and determined that drop-in play was available from 7AM until noon. Prior to the weather deterioration, I gave thought to playing pickleball in the morning before migrating to the Frying Pan for the afternoon. With the change in weather I decided to dress in my pickleball attire and check out the courts and play for an hour or two and then proceed directly to the Frying Pan for some afternoon fishing.

The first part of this plan evolved nicely. I arrived at the courts, and two players sat on the bench waiting for more to arrive. They welcomed me, and within ten minutes a fourth joined us. For the next three and one-half hours I enjoyed myself immensely playing against new and skilled opposition in Carbondale, CO. As the games progressed, the weather worsened, and the wind was an ever-present hindrance to controlling the light pickleball. A heavy layer of clouds shrouded the peak of Mt. Sopris, which was constantly within my view from the courts, and I decided to forego fly fishing for the active game of pickleball on Memorial Day.

Tuesday was my getaway day, and after bypassing fly fishing on Memorial Day I was anxious to pay another visit to the Pan, before embarking on my return drive to Denver. Once again cold temperatures were forecast for the morning, so I enjoyed the warmth of my room, before I checked out at 10:15. The short drive south on CO 82 and then through Basalt delivered me to a roadside pullout along the lower Frying Pan by 10:45AM, and I was perched along the river fly fishing by 11:15. I chose my Sage four weight and rigged it with an amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl, salvation nymph and sparkle wing RS2. These were the flies that produced solid results on Sunday, so why not default to them again on Tuesday?

Looks Prime

Happy with This Landed Trout

I worked my way upstream over the next two hours and landed four trout. An eleven inch brown chowed down on the salvation in the early going, and then after a long dry spell I landed two browns barely over six inches plus the fish of the day, a deeply colored cutbow that smacked the amber ice dub body chubby Chernobyl. My results on the lower river were better than what I achieved on Sunday in the early going; however, I was disappointed, and I decided to once again move to the upper section. I packed my car with my gear and made the drive to the river area between MM10 and 11.

Prime Pockets

I spent the remainder of the day probing the pockets and deep runs upstream from where I ended my day on Sunday. Throughout this time I maintained the chubby Chernobyl and salvation nymph, but the third fly cycled among an ultra zug bug, hares ear nymph, a classic RS2 and the sparkle wing RS2. The fish counter elevated from four to twelve, and the salvation was responsible for all these trout except for one aggressive brown that chomped the chubby Chernobyl. The eight later afternoon fish included one nice rainbow plus seven brown trout. Several of the browns were in the twelve inch range, but most of the netted fish fit in the eight to eleven inch slot.

Olive Brown

I lost six flies during my Tuesday wanderings, and all were due to human error. I actually dropped five of the flies in the river, when I failed to realize that the leader broke, while I rescued them from streamside shrubs. I was quite disturbed about this turn of events. The final demonstration of human blunder occurred at 3:30PM, and this provided a convenient excuse to end my day.

Tuesday was a mediocre day in my opinion. The weather was pleasant, but the fishing was relatively slow, and the average size of my catch was below my expectations for the Frying Pan River. However, with most options blown out across the state, I felt fortunate for the opportunity to cast in moving water on May 31, 2022. With my daughter, Amy, now living in the Roaring Fork Valley, I foresee more visits during the 2022 fishing season.

Fish Landed: 12

Frying Pan River – 05/29/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: MM1 and Upper River

Frying Pan River 05/29/2022 Photo Album

Jane and I made the drive in separate cars from Denver to Carbondale on Thursday evening after returning Theo to Louisville, CO. Since Phil’s mother was visiting for the Memorial Day weekend, Jane and I reserved a room at the Comfort Inn and Suites from Thursday through Monday nights. We planned to spend Friday and Saturday hiking and gardening, and Amy was scheduled to return to work on Sunday, so Jane planned to return to Denver on Sunday for the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend.

Since I drove separately, and I had accommodations available to me, I took advantage to plan three days of fly fishing on the Frying Pan River. With most of the freestone rivers in Colorado flowing high and murky, I anxiously anticipated some quality fishing on a low and clear tailwater.

On my way to the river on Sunday morning I stopped at the Taylor Creek Fly Shop and bought floatant and used my visit to query the salesman regarding current insect activity. He informed me that the area below the dam featured an all day midge hatch and a two hour blue winged olive hatch. Small caddis were present throughout the canyon. I told the salesman that I preferred to fish the lower canyon to escape crowds, and upon learning this he suggested that I could get away with larger beadhead flies.

At the Start

Because Sunday was on Memorial Day weekend, and freestones were blown out with run off., I assumed that the upper tailwater was slammed with anglers. I drove to a wide pullout near mile marker one, and a United Rentals vehicle occupied a space ahead of me. I was unsure whether this was a fisherman or not, so I prepared to fish, and just as I was about to depart, the United Rentals angler appeared. He told me he had just fished the stretch I planned to target, but I concluded that the water had been rested long enough and proceeded with my original plan. In retrospect, this may have been a strategic error.

Deep Pools

At 10;00AM the flows were low and clear at 113 CFS, and the weather was quite nice with blue skies and air temperatures in the low to mid fifties. I rigged my Sage four weight and fitted my line with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, a 20 incher, and a salvation nymph and began prospecting all the promising deeper runs and moderate riffles. In the early going two small brown trout elevated to inspect the fat Albert, but those two instances of activity proved to be the only bright spots during my two hours of morning fly fishing. I also experimented with a sparkle wing RS2, hares ear nymph, emerald caddis pupa and iron sally. Nothing unlocked the jaws of the trout, and I decided to move on at 11:45AM.

The flows seemed greater than 113 CFS, and I speculated that a tributary was contributing run off above me, so I decided to move upstream. In hindsight I think the narrow deep canyon was funneling the river through a narrow streambed, and this minimized the number of slow velocity holding spots for trout.

Bankside Pockets

I drove slowly eastward and eventually stopped to fish within the last four miles below the dam. I quickly devoured the lunch that I collected from the Comfort Inn breakfast room, and before departing for the river, I noticed large gray clouds forming in the western sky. I used this observation as an opportunity to pull on my raincoat and my billed hat with earflaps. I walked along a short path to the river and stepped over some slippery branches and resumed casting the fat Albert. In two pockets along the bank a brown trout rose and snubbed the fat Albert. This sudden dose of action raised my optimism, but then a lengthy period of inactivity brought me back to earth. I converted the fat Albert to a peacock hippie stomper and substituted some different nymphs, but the changes failed to alter my skunking status.

The River Ahead

I progressed upstream quite a distance, as the sky darkened, while black clouds moved in from the west. The low light fueled a sparse hatch, and three trout began to rise in an eight foot wide slick behind a large exposed boulder. I removed the nymphs and added a CDC BWO behind the peacock stomper, but the leader was too long, and I was unable to track the size 22 baetis imitation. I was frustrated by my inability to convert during the dry fly opportunity, so I snipped off the flies and deployed a simple dry; the CDC BWO. Finally a small brown barely over the six inch minimum grabbed my offering, and I was barely on the scoreboard.

Chubby Chernobyl Getting It Done

I moved upstream along the left bank, and I spotted a decent brown in a small pocket in front of a large rock, but it was not rising. Once again I initiated a change, as I added a hippie stomper with a silver body and retained the CDC olive on a twelve inch dropper. The visible trout rose to engulf my fly on the fifth drift, but it immediately tucked under the rock and broke off both flies. At this point I was facing the need to replace the lost flies, and this was a natural decision point to reevaluate. I shifted my tactical gears and knotted an amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl to my line and then added a salvation nymph followed by a sparkle wing RS2.

This combination proved to be a winner, and I moved the fish counter from one to twenty over the remaining 2.5 hours of fly fishing. Initially several fish refused the chubby, but eventually the surface fly proved to be a desirable food source in addition to serving as an effective indicator.

Love the Speckles

In a nice deep V between two merging currents, I netted three very fine trout. The species were cutbow, rainbow, and brown; and each fly produced a fish. The trout were in the thirteen to fourteen inch range, and this sequence was the highlight of my day. The remainder of the afternoon involved a steady progression with relatively constant action. The next sixteen fish were mainly browns in the nine to twelve inch range with a rainbow or two in the mix. Four trout succumbed to the chubby, and three nabbed the sparkle wing. The overwhelming favorite was the salvation, as it accounted for the remainder. Moderate riffles and long narrow slots with some depth were prime trout producing locations.

Melon Color

After fears of skunking and dread of two more days on the Frying Pan River with no viable alternatives, my day on Sunday developed into a very productive outing in terms of both quantity and quality. If only I could train myself to pause for two seconds before setting, when I spy a fish approaching the chubby Chernobyl. This gives me something to practice on Monday and Tuesday.

Fish Landed: 20

Fine Brown Trout

Davis Ponds – 05/23/2022

Time: 12:30PM – 4:30PM

Location: Staunton State Park

Davis Ponds 05/23/2022 Photo Album

After a couple days of heavy wet snow, I was seeking an opportunity to sneak in a day of fly fishing. Unfortunately the weather forecast reflected a few additional days of cool and wet weather for Monday and Tuesday, May 23 and 24. Most of the rivers were running high, although the freestones dropped as a result of the cool temperatures that created a significant slow down to snow melt in the high country. In spite of this temporary window, I decided to make my first trip to a lake for 2022.

I checked the weather for Pine, CO, and the high temperature on the graph displayed 51 degrees. Staunton State Park was my chosen destination, and that location is higher in elevation than Pine, so I suspected temperatures there in the upper 40’s. I decided to make the forty-five minute drive with the understanding that it was not that far, should I decided to reverse direction.

As I began my drive west on Interstate 70, I remembered that I had not yet received my Colorado State Parks Aspen Leaf pass. I paid for and ordered it on March 23, and when I followed up on its status in early May, I was told to fill out a lost in the mail form. I did so, and returned the form within 24 hours, yet three weeks later I was heading to a state park without a current pass. I pulled over to a chain up area along I70 and searched through my inbox on my phone, until I found the email that contained the receipt from my purchase. I continued onward with the knowledge that I could at least produce a receipt on my phone to substantiate my purchase of an annual pass.

Late Spring Snow

When I arrived at the entrance window, a young lady asked if I had a current pass, and I replied that I did, but that there was a story connected to it. She told me to pull into the parking lot next to the office and to come inside. I learned that the young state park employee had only been on the job for four days, and she fairly quickly summoned her supervisor to assist. After a few hiccups in the process the Staunton State Park team was able to confirm my purchase, and they printed and issued my a  new state parks pass. The entire effort consumed thirty minutes, but I was abnormally patient, as I was willing to allow the 41 degree temperature to warm, before I ventured along the trail to the Davis Ponds.

After securing my annual pass I continued on to the second parking lot, and I immediately downed my lunch while again hoping for a small warming trend. When I was ready to prepare for an afternoon of fishing, I pulled on my fleece and light down and raincoat along with my New Zealand billed hat with earflaps. In addition, I dug out my wool fingerless gloves, and then I assembled my Sage four weight. The one mile hike along the Davis Ponds Loop warmed me up considerably, but I maintained the three layers for the first two hours of fishing, and I was not overheated. This was also the first day to use my new Korkers’ Darkhorse wading boots, and I was pleased with their comfort and fit, as I traversed the hilly trail leading to the ponds.

Davis Ponds Loop

Upon my arrival, I moved instantly to the lower pond, and I remained there for my entire time on the water. I began my effort to catch some fish on a raw and chilly day with a size 8 yellow fat Albert and an antique wet fly with a gold body, that I tied thirty years ago. Beneath the classic wet fly I added a salad spinner midge emerger. The first thirty minutes produced some heart stopping swirls and refusals to the fat Albert, but I only registered one small rainbow trout that nabbed the salad spinner. After a decent trial period I swapped the classic wet fly for a sunk ant and then replaced that fly with a pheasant tail styled nymph with a marabou tail and glass bead. The pheasant tail variant produced a second trout, but I was frustrated by the refusals to the fat Albert, and this prompted me to downsize to a hippie stomper. Downsizing to the stomper actually attracted less interest, and the fish mostly ignored the trailing subsurface droppers, so I again shifted gears and transitioned to a size 14 yellow stimulator.

On the Board

During this time the sun came out for short periods, and when this occurred, the lake changed into a very smooth and calm body of water. This condition was, in turn, accompanied by a lack of surface rises and no response to my flies. However, when clouds blocked the sun, and the wind kicked up, a flurry of rings dotted the surface of the lake. After two hours of relatively frustrating fishing and two small trout in the fish count, I decided to alter my approach. Other than the two fish landed, the nymphs seemed to be mostly ignored, while trout consistently approached and turned away from the surface flies.

I removed the nymphs and added a parachute ant on a twelve inch dropper behind the stimulator. These two flies continued to attract looks and swirls and a few temporary hook ups, but the results were far below my expectations given the number of trout observed during my time on the water. Once again I pondered the situation and implemented yet another change. I returned to the hippie stomper as the lead fly, albeit one with a bright red mylar body, and I knotted an olive-brown deer hair caddis behind the lead fly. I cast the two flies near recent rises and allowed them to rest for thirty seconds. If no response was forthcoming, I began to make short strips that caused the two flies to create a wake, and quite often an eager fish appeared to either grab one of the flies or initiate a large heart-pounding bulge beneath the flies.

Decent Fish for the Pond

For the final two hours on the pond I landed sixteen additional rainbow trout. The pace of action elevated significantly, although I executed many fruitless casts and retrievals for each successful cycle. At the beginning of the double dry approach, I removed my raincoat and light down coat, as the sun was out more frequently and for longer periods. I lived to regret this move, as some dense clouds rolled in within thirty minutes, and eventually I was forced to reinstate the raincoat, as light rain descended. The change in weather seemed to improve the fishing, and I became absorbed with casting and stripping and releasing fish in spite of the turn in the weather. I am always amazed that I can endure adverse weather better, when I am having fly fishing success.

Smooth Surface

By 4:30 my hands and fingers were stiff and curled due to the cooling evaporation effect of the rain, so I decided to call it quits and hiked back to the car. After two hours of fishing I was mentally writing off Monday as a trip to secure a state parks pass; however, on my drive home I was reveling in an eighteen fish day that was accomplished in forty degree temperatures on a lake. I am not a very accomplished lake fisherman, so any degree of stillwater success is always gratifying.

Fish Landed: 18

South Platte River – 05/17/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/17/2022 Photo Album

When I first moved to Colorado in the early nineties, a San Juan worm and a pheasant tail nymph were nearly certain producers on the South Platte River. Since that time I strayed from the San Juan worm. When I have a bad day, my wife insists it is because I eschew the trusty worm. Could a San Juan worm still be effective on the South Platte River or other Colorado systems?

My options for fishing in Colorado rivers and streams dwindled, as I reviewed the flows upon my return from a week in Kauai. Bear Creek, Boulder Creek, the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, and the Big Thompson remained viable, even though they were on the upper border of disappearing from my possible list. The South Platte River at Lake George was trending upward at 170 CFS, when I checked the DWR graphs on Monday evening, so I decided to give it a go on Tuesday.

190 CFS

The temperature was in the upper sixties, when I arrived at my chosen pullout along the river, and the high peaked in the low seventies with very few clouds in the sky during my time on the river. Tuesday was nearly perfect from a weather perspective from an angler viewpoint. When I crossed the road to stare at the river, it appeared to be higher than I anticipated, and this eventuality was accompanied by some murkiness. Upon my return to home, I checked the flows for Tuesday, and the chart reflected a gradual climb from 170 CFS to 200 CFS during my time on the river. The increase surely explained the color, although visibility remained reasonable, as the streambed could be seen in all but the deepest pools. In addition to the turbidity I observed an abundant quantity of floating debris, and lots of fly-grabbing sticks were wedged between the rocks. I also encountered a family of tubers, but they exited above me and never became a significant nuisance.

A Start

I began my day with a dry/dropper that included a size 8 yellow fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear nymph, and an emerald caddis pupa. In the early going I landed one tiny brown trout that was too small to count and then added a ten inch brown that consumed the hares ear. When I attempted to remove the fly and release the fish, I discovered a snelled hook from another angler in the fish’s mouth, and it was too deep to remove, so I released it in the same state, as I caught it. I felt bad about this, but the fish seemed to be surviving with a hook and leader in its mouth, and I concluded that any effort to dig deep would do more harm than good.

Decent for This Section of River

After a fifteen minute dry spell I exchanged the caddis pupa for a black, beaded mini leech. The leech generated no luck, so I made another switch to a pink San Juan worm in combination with the hares ear. Ka-ching! The San Juan worm clicked and remained on my line over the remainder of the day. By lunch at noon my fish count rested on five, with four brown trout grabbing the San Juan worm, and one brown favoring the hares ear, as explained earlier.

The Worm Was Desired

After lunch I made an overzealous cast and broke off all three flies that comprised the dry/dropper. The flies remained on an island two-thirds of the way across the river, and I was unable to wade into a position to recover them, so I made a mental note of the prominent characteristics of the island and planned to resume a search, once I crossed to the other side at a manageable crossing point.

I used the break off as an opportunity to experiment with a nymphing rig. Early afternoon was blue winged olive hatch time, so I constructed my offering with the pink San Juan worm and a sparkle wing RS2 along with a split shot and New Zealand strike indicator. The nymph set up remained in place for the remainder of my time on the water, and the fish count steadily climbed from five to twelve. During the course of the day the pink San Juan worm accounted for eight trout; the hares ear one, an orange scud fooled one; and a salvation nymph finished out the day with two. A baetis hatch never materialized, and the RS2 was ignored.

Different Lighting

When I reached the area just below Happy Meadows, I reversed direction and crossed the river just above the island, that I planned to search for my flies. I almost forgot and walked a short distance beyond, but then I remembered and descended to the river and crossed a small side channel to reach the small island. I paced fifteen steps to the downstream side and almost immediately spotted the yellow fat Albert and recovered all three flies.

On my way back to the car I stopped to fish some pocket water along the side of the river that bordered the road, and I snagged a large branch. I attempted to leverage the branch within my grasp, but my line broke, and I lost a pink San Juan worm and orange scud. You win some, and you lose some.

Another Respectable Brown

The lost fly incident caused me to retreat to the car, and I drove down the road for .5 mile and parked in a wide pullout next to a high bank above the river. I hiked down the road a short distance and then cut back to the river and worked my way back to the car while drifting a flesh colored San Juan worm and salvation nymph. The salvation fooled one brown trout, and a thirteen inch brown chomped the worm, as it dangled in the current at the bottom of a run,

At 3:30 I reached the upper end of the desirable water in this area, and I decided to quit for the day. I landed twelve decent brown trout on Tuesday, but the fly fishing could not be considered hot. My catch rate was just over two fish per hour, and I considered that average. Nevertheless, I was proud of my persistence and willingness to flex with the conditions to deep nymphing with a San Juan worm. Clearly the rising flows scoured the banks and propelled aquatic worms and earthworms into the river. Over twenty-five years after my love affair with the San Juan worm on the South Platte River, I experienced a revival, and I will not be reluctant to knot a worm to my line, should I once again encounter off-colored water.

Fish Landed: 12

South Platte River – 05/03/2022

Time: 11:15AM – 4:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/03/2022 Photo Album

I experienced an exceptional day of fishing last Wednesday, April 27, and I was anxious to make a return to the South Platte River, but I also had my eye on the Arkansas River. The caddis hatch began its progression up the canyon, and this suggested the possibility of a double dip with both blue winged olives and caddis on the menu. As a first step to make my destination decision, I checked the weather, and the wind velocity in Salida was forecast to strike speeds in excess of 20 MPH on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Eleven Mile Canyon was somewhat better with speeds of 14 – 16 MPH in the afternoon. I gambled that I could tolerate the wind in Eleven Mile; and, furthermore relatively heavy cloud cover was predicted from 3:00PM until the evening. Perhaps these conditions would spur another baetis hatch similar to that which entertained me on April 27. I decided to make the trip.

Although my day on the previous Wednesday was outstanding, there was a period just prior to the brief rain storm, when my CDC BWO was not effective. The trout seemed to favor very active naturals, as the wind tumbled the tiny mayflies across the surface of the river. This experience motivated me to tie five new flies on Monday afternoon in an effort to be prepared for high wind and picky trout. In addition to my normal recipe of a CDC comparadun style wing, microfibbet tails, and olive dubbed body and thorax; I added a very small dun hackle wound around the hook shank before and after the wing. I inserted all five of the new flies into my fly box on Monday evening in preparation for Tuesday’s trip. Did they work? Read on.

Perched on Hackles

I arrived at my chosen location high above the South Platte River by 11:00AM, and I immediately pulled on my North Face light down coat. The air temperature at the start was in the low fifties, but the high was projected to reach sixty, so I proceeded with one layer. I assembled my Sage One five weight with the expectation of above average fish and strong winds in the afternoon. I hiked along the dirt road for .4 mile and dropped into the canyon on a short steep trail in order to arrive at the first pool. I named this pool lunch pool, as I typically rest along side the short deep area to eat my lunch.

Tail of This Pool Produced a Brown Trout in the Early Going

Early Dry Fly Action

In my mind I was debating whether to rig with a strike indicator and nymphs or to deploy a dry/dropper, when several subtle rises at the very tail of the run aroused my curiosity. Could blue winged olives be hatching this early under clear bright blue skies? I decided to find out, and I knotted a size 20 CDC BWO to my 4X tippet. I was hesitant to extend the leader with 5X, in case I decided to return to the dry/dropper approach in short order. The move proved to be a winner, and I landed two trout in the first half hour on the CDC BWO. A brown trout sipped the BWO imitation from the very tail of the run, where it began to curl toward the shoreline to form an eddy. The second netted fish was a fourteen inch rainbow, and it darted to the surface from the deepest spot in the eddy to ingest the CDC BWO. I broke for lunch at 11:45AM with two nice trout notched on the fish counter. I observed the pool during lunch, and a few sporadic rises resumed in the tail and eddy, so I returned to the scene of my morning success. Alas, in spite of some focused fishing, I was unable to recreate the magic, and I decided to modify my approach.

CDC BWO Sipper

The upper section of the pool was characterized by a long faster moving riffle, and I was skeptical that the minute single dry fly would function as a prospecting weapon, so I reconfigured with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, beadhead sparkle wing RS2 and a non-beadhead soft hackle emerger. I created a fairly short dropper system, as I suspected that the fish were hovering just beneath the surface looking for active nymphs and emergers. My thought process was sound, but the dry/dropper approach was a huge dud, and I moved up the river to the next inviting pool. Two other anglers were present during my morning efforts, during lunch and during the short window thereafter; but as I approached the long smooth pool, I was pleased to discover that it was vacant. I immediately claimed the extreme upstream section, where the main current split around a large exposed rock, and I covered the entry runs thoroughly with the BWO nymph and wet fly. The trout ignored my offerings, and I concluded that my theories were not applicable on May 3.

The Big, Long Pool

As the trout taught me this lesson, I began to observe some sporadic rises through the center of the pool, where the twin currents merged and then fanned out to the slow moving tail. I removed my dry/dropper system and tied on another CDC BWO. The pace of rises never accelerated beyond sporadic in the bright sunshine, but when I noticed a rise and placed a drift over the feeding spot, I was able to hook and land three mid-sized brown trout.

Afternoon Catch

For the remainder of the afternoon I visited three additional pools and upped the fish count from five to fourteen. Wednesday’s fly fishing adventure was quite different from April 27, when I enjoyed dense hatches in waves that brought large numbers of ravenously feeding trout to the surface. On Tuesday, the wind would kick up, and this in turn sparked a very sparse hatch and sporadic rises. I made a huge quantity of casts and covered a ton of real estate to carve out a very satisfying day on the South Platte River.


My next pool was the one below Steve’s pool, where the strong main current runs along the eastern bank and then deflects off a huge boulder with a vertical side. I managed to land two from this location on downstream drifts, and I replaced the soggy CDC BWO with one of my new hackled CDC BWO’s. It worked for one fish, before I hooked another that felt heavier than the previous catches, but this fish made a sudden turn and snapped off my new creation.

Riser Tight to the Rock

One angler occupied Steve’s pool, so I waded around the bend and passed the narrow island to investigate the slow and smooth pool along the left bank above the island. Another fisherman beat me to it, so I moved above him and spotted some nice feeders on my side of the river. I managed to land a nice brown trout and connected briefly with another pair, before I moved on. My next stop was another gorgeous pool that spread out around some exposed boulders and then made a wide smooth tail section. I headed immediately to the deep entering currents, and I paused to observe for awhile. The sun was out, and the air was relatively dead, but I was able to spot two very subtle dimples along a current seam, and these observations translated into two nice rainbow trout in the thirteen and fourteen inch range. I now achieved double digits, and I was pleased with my day regardless of what the future offered.

A Rainbow Was Off the point of the Rock on the Right

Another Hungry Rainbow

The next area consisted of pocket water, and I was seeking slow, smooth pools in order to pick off BWO surface feeders, so I reversed direction and returned to the scene of much success on April 19. This was also the area occupied by another angler earlier, as I approached from below. I carefully waded into position from the western bank and stood in relatively shallow water with a nice sandy bottom. As I suspected, trout were dimpling the surface throughout the twenty-five yard long pool. By now, as predicted, the cloud cover thickened, and the light diminished, and the wind kicked up. My feet were migrating into frozen stumps, and a slight chill invaded my body. I began lobbing casts to the feeding lanes, where trout revealed their positions via greedy rises, but my low riding CDC BWO was mostly ignored. After a large number of casts, I finally connected with a fine trout to move the fish count to eleven, but the number of feeding fish compared to my single success suggested that I had not solved the feeding riddle.

Deep Colors on This Beauty

I paused to assess and realized that these were the very conditions that I attempted to solve with my hackled CDC olives. I plucked one from my fly box and knotted it to my 5X tippet and resumed casting. Although I continued to experience my fair share of futility in the form of looks and refusals, I did hook and land three very nice fish on the hackled BWO. The hackles enabled the fly to ride higher on the surface of the river, and to my angler eye, it more closely resembled the natural baetis that tumbled and bounced along the surface in the face of the strong gusts of wind. In one instance, I twitched the fly with a jerky mend, and one of the landed trout responded with a quick eat.

Thick Brown Trout

Although Tuesday, May 3 yielded fewer trout, and the quality of the hatch was inferior to April 27, I still rated the day as excellent. Success required patience, persistence and keen observation. Downstream casting and mending skills were a necessity, and frequent drying and application of floatant were keys to success. The most gratifying aspect of the day was my ability to utilize my new hackled CDC BWO fly to fool and land three very fine trout in the last hour of the day. I will certainly tie more.

Fish Landed: 14

Clear Creek – 05/01/2022

Time: 12:15PM – 4:15PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 05/01/2022 Photo Album

Although a distant second to fly fishing, I am also an avid pickleball player, and Sunday morning began with a visit to a local set of courts. Unfortunately, after 1.5 hours of play, it became clear that the four courts were overwhelmed by twenty-six players. This meant that ten players were sitting out at any given time waiting for a court to open up. Having already played some quality pickleball on Friday and Saturday, I concluded that my time could be better spent on a trout stream.

My go to nearby creek this spring has been Clear Creek, so I made that my destination on Sunday afternoon. I quickly loaded the car and threw together my standard lunch and made the relatively short drive to Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden, CO. The parking spaces were jammed with hikers, bikers, fishermen and rock climbers taking advantage of the nice weekend weather, but I found a nice wide pullout with the absence of other cars. It was 11:45AM, when I arrived at my chosen section of Clear Creek, so I munched down my sandwich and carrots, before I prepared to fish. The temperature was in the low fifties, so I pulled on my light down coat and added my raincoat as a windbreaker, and this proved to be a good decision, as the wind was a periodic factor in the narrow canyon. My fly rod of choice was my Sage four weight, as I desired its stiffness and fast action to combat the wind.

Second Cast Produced Here Along the Seam

Hungry Fish

Based on my experience on previous trips, I began my day with a peacock hippie stomper trailing a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. The double dry delivered five trout in two hours of fishing, as I moved often and executed a significant number of casts. I would characterize the fishing as steady, but I was disappointed nevertheless. Two of the landed fish gulped the hippie stomper and the other three nipped the caddis. These results were accompanied by an abundant quantity of looks and refusals, and this added to my frustration. I began to experiment with different combinations including a classic black Chernobyl ant, a purple haze, and a size 14 gray deer hair caddis as the lead fly. None of these flies delivered results, so at 2:15PM, I modified my approach and switched to a dry/dropper configuration.

Landed One From the Narrow Slick Next to the Large Rock

On previous trips to Clear Creek the nymphs failed to produce, as the trout either looked at, refused or ate the surface fly. I was skeptical that Sunday would be any different, but I reluctantly rigged with a yellow size 6 fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear, and a salvation nymph. Voila! The change worked, and my catch rate elevated, as I moved the fish count from five to thirteen. Initially the hares ear was the prime producer, while the salvation accounted for a couple trout as well. It seemed that the salvation was more effective on the lift, or when the flies swept across the current at the end of a drift; whereas, the hares ear connected on dead drifts.

Hares Ear Looked Tasty

After I increased the fish count from five to nine, I began to notice very spaced out and sporadic rises as well as some small blue winged olives, as they floated skyward after their emergence. I decided to forsake the salvation and replaced it with a sparkle wing RS2. During the last hour I netted four additional trout with the hares ear responsible for half and the sparkle wing RS2 the object of desire for the remainder. All was not perfect during the dry/dropper phase, as several fish refused the large yellow fat Albert, but I learned to ignore these picky eaters, and if I managed nice drifts through deep pockets and runs, I was rewarded with subsurface eats.

Large Pool

My last minute decision to abandon the pickleball courts in favor of a trout stream proved to be productive. Thirteen fish in four hours represents a decent catch rate, but as usual the size of the trout was lacking. One or two of my catch may have stretched the tape to eleven inches, but they were mostly in the seven to ten inch range. I considered the outing a great success given the short drive and the cool windy conditions.

Fish Landed: 13