Monthly Archives: July 2022

South Boulder Creek – 07/29/2022

Time: 12:15PM – 1:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 07/29/2022 Photo Album

As I reviewed flows on the DWR web site prior to my trips to Boulder Creek and the Cache la Poudre River, I noted that the water managers reduced the releases from Gross Reservoir to the 168 CFS range. Based on previous experience, I knew that this level is high in the narrow canyon; however, I have enjoyed decent success at these levels particularly when green drakes and pale morning duns are active. July 29 was a bit early for drakes, but I suspected some early emergers could be on the creek. I decided to make the trip on Friday, July 29, 2022.

One small hurdle remained; however, before I could finalize my trip plans. We were waiting for a visit from our new HVAC guy, and he suggested that he could stop by in the 8:00AM – 10:30AM window on Friday. Jane had waited for him earlier in the week, so in fairness to our relationship, it was my turn to forego other activities. Finally, at 9AM Jane called to inform me that she received a text message from John HVAC, and he was under the weather and unable to fulfill the promised appointment. I was now free to resurrect my fly fishing plans, and I quickly gathered my gear and loaded the car and made the drive to South Boulder Creek. Five cars were ahead of me in the kayak lot. I quickly assembled my Sage four weight and scrambled into my gear and made the hike to the tailwater creek.

Yummy Pool

When I arrived at my chosen starting point, my watch displayed 11:50AM, so I decided to consume the lunch stuffed in my backpack, before I began my quest for wild trout. Once my yogurt cup was empty, I knotted a tan size 8 pool toy hopper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. I was prepared for terrestrials, yellow sally nymphs and pale morning dun nymphs. In the early going I witnessed refusals to the hopper, but then my flies began to click, and I landed four trout within the first thirty minutes. Two gobbled the hopper, and the hares ear and salvation produced one each. The first four trout landed were all brown trout in the six to ten inch range.

Early Take

By one o’clock the action slowed considerably, and refusals to the pool toy began to dominate. Since the fish seemed to be looking toward the surface for their meals, I decided to make a switch, and I converted to a double dry with a peacock hippie stomper followed by a yellow size 14 stimulator. The higher than ideal flows reduced the number of viable trout holding locations, and I was largely reduced to short drifts in bank side pockets, as I ignored the rapidly cascading flows in the middle of the creek.

Better Focus

The shrunken number of trout lairs caused me to advance up the stream more rapidly than usual, but the two flies clicked reasonably well, and the fish count elevated to nine. Two of the double dry fly attracted trout slurped the hippie stomper and three grabbed the heavily hackled stimulator. I sensed I was on the verge of a stellar outing, as a few mayflies made an appearance above the creek, and a couple were likely green drakes.

I photographed and released number nine, since it was my best brown trout of the day, and during this process the two dry flies twisted around the tip of my Sage fly rod. I grabbed the rod and executed a series of hand over hand movements, so that I could hold the rod in the middle and unravel the uncooperative dry flies. When the flies were free and separated, I reversed the hand over hand process to resume gripping the rod at the cork handle, but unbeknownst to me, the reel and butt end of the rod had dipped below the surface of the creek behind a large branch that was wedged between several large rocks. When I shifted my grip back toward the handle, the top of the rod elevated, and the current grabbed the reel and butt end and forced them beneath the branch, and before I could release, the rod snapped in the second section below the tip. It happened so fast that I could not react, and I sat down on the bank and grieved for a few minutes. Surprisingly nary a curse word was uttered, as I was depressed with the news, that I broke my second Sage rod of the season.

Broken Section, End of Fishing

Since I hiked a decent distance from the car, I had no backup with me, and climbing the steep hill to retrieve another rod, and then returning to the creek only to make the hill climb a second time was out of the question. I broke the rod down to four segments and hiked back to the parking lot. My fishing session ended after one hour and fifteen minutes and nine fish, and I felt I was on the verge of some outstanding action. When I returned home, I immediately filed a repair claim with Far Bank (the company that now owns Sage), and then I printed the QR code and address and packed up the broken rod to ship for repair.

Friday was a bittersweet day. I now have two Sage rods out for repair, as I approach the meat of the summer and fall season. I have a backup four weight, a backup five weight, and a five weight that my friend, Dave G., loaned me. I anticipate a heavy dose of small stream fishing, and having one four weight for this duty concerns me a bit. In a pinch the Loomis 8.5 foot five weight could also suffice in close quarters. Hopefully I can return to South Boulder Creek in the near future for a full day of fishing; while abundant quantities of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies feed the stream residents. A reduction of flows to the low one hundred range would also be welcome news.

Fish Landed: 9

Cache la Poudre River – 07/27/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Poudre Canyon

Cache la Poudre River  07/27/2022 Photo Album

After some comparatively slow fishing on the Arkansas River last week, I vowed to redirect my fishing efforts to smaller high country streams or tailwaters. These two options avoid catching and handling trout in dangerously warm water temperatures, and the fish are simply more active due to ideal temperature ranges and more insect activity.

Wednesday was my second visit to a Colorado stream since making the vow referenced in the first paragraph. Since the Cameron Peak fire in 2020, I avoided the Cache la Poudre River, as I suspected that sediments and ash from the burn scar impacted the fish population. Prior to the wildfire, July was my favorite time to make the trip to the brawling river west of Ft. Collins, and I typically bumped into green drakes and pale morning duns. These remembrances along with favorable flows and optimistic reports from the local fly shop motivated me to make the two hour drive on July 27. As it turns out, I disregarded my pledge from the previous week, and that oversight essentially cost me a day of fishing and half a tank of gasoline.

A Good Place to Start

I departed the house at 7:35AM, and that enabled me to arrive at a pullout along CO 14 next to the river by 9:45AM. Several traffic tie ups slowed my progress along with some slow moving camper trailers and raft carriers. I pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight rod, and I ambled downstream for .2 mile to a spot, where I could negotiate the steep bank to the edge of the river. The river was very clear, and the flows were high but not adverse for wading and moving about. The air temperature was in the low seventies.

What a Surprise

I tied a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then added a size 16 gray deer hair adult caddis. I was hopeful that the hippie stomper could perform triple duty as an indicator, attractor and green drake imitation. Within my first ten casts, the flies touched down at the head of a long seam, and I was surprised, when a nose broke the surface to engulf the trailing caddis. I was even more surprised, when I began to play the fish, and within a few minutes I recognized a sixteen inch brown trout in my net. This was easily the largest brown trout that I ever landed from the Cache la Poudre River. My optimism soared; but, alas, it was unfounded.

Fat by Poudre Standards

For the next two hours I progressed upstream along the right bank, and I failed to generate the slightest bit of action. I never saw a rise, a refusal, a look or a temporary connection. In fact, I was unable to sight a fish or even spook a trout, as I waded through some very attractive water. I covered areas that were teeming with small brown trout during my visits to the upper Poudre in July in years prior to the fire. In an effort to change my bad luck, I switched to a dry/dropper with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper, and I dangled a prince nymph, salvation nymph and beadhead hares ear nymph beneath the large foam terrestrial. Nothing. After lunch and toward the end of my time on the upper Poudre I reverted to the double dry fly approach and featured the hippie stomper and a parachute green drake. The green drake was ignored, so I experimented with a purple haze and light gray comparadun. None of the combinations resulted in so much as a look. Not only did I not observe any fish, but I also saw very little in the way of aquatic insect activity.

Lunch Spot

At 1:30 I tromped back to the car, shed my gear and drove eastward, until I stopped .1 mile above Hewlett Gulch. I was hopeful that if the lack of fish was related to the wildfire, being farther down river might translate to less impact from the burn scar. In forty-five minutes of focused fly fishing above Hewlett Gulch, I resumed my futility, until I called it quits at 2:15PM. I gave a solid test to the double dry fly set up as well as another dry/dropper trial, but fruitless casting was the only outcome. Before I quite at 2:15PM, I submerged my stream thermometer in a relatively deep fast pocket near the bank, and after two minutes it registered 66 degrees. With this red flag in front of me, I climbed the bank and returned to the Santa Fe for the return drive.

Ironically I landed the largest fish ever from the Poudre in the early going and then never witnessed a sign of trout thereafter. What is the explanation? I tend to blame the wildfire and not the water temperature. I am certain that the water temperature was in the low sixties during the morning, because I was farther west and, therefore, at higher elevation. To me the most concerning information was the lack of smaller trout in pockets and riffles along the shoreline where a preponderance of such fish existed during my pre-wildfire visits. Not seeing even a spooked fish darting for cover, as I waded upstream was a sure sign of low fish density. The lack of insect life was also disconcerting, and I remember reading articles about the South Platte after the Heyman fire that stated that aquatic insect larva and nymphs were smothered by sediments and ash that washed into the river from the burn scar. Having said that, I never observed gray sand or mud on the streambed. At any rate, I will not return to the Poudre this season, and perhaps not in 2023, unless I obtain more information to convince me otherwise.

Fish Landed: 1

Boulder Creek – 07/25/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 07/25/2022 Photo Album

I committed to playing pickleball at 4PM on Monday, July 25; therefore, my fly fishing venture needed to require a short drive. I reviewed the flows for all the usual suspects; Big Thompson, 125 CFS; Clear Creek, 127 CFS; North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, 55 CFS and Boulder Creek, 84 CFS. Those numbers were derived from my Sunday research. Jane and I attended our grandson, Theo’s, birthday party in Louisville, CO on Sunday; and while there, dark clouds rolled in and showers commenced. I had already made my choice of Boulder Creek for fishing, but apparently a significant amount of rain fell on Sunday evening, because the DWR chart depicted a spike from 84 CFS to 141 CFS at 9PM on Sunday. On Monday morning, as I prepared to depart, I checked the chart again, and the flows on Boulder Creek were down to 117 CFS. Because I needed to be in south Denver by four o’clock, I decided to begin my fly fishing day on Boulder Creek. If the water was off color or too high, I could continue on to the North Fork of the St. Vrain, although that move would cut into my fishing time significantly, since I generally hike for at least thirty minutes to and from my favorite section.

This Area Produced the First Couple Fish

When I caught my first glimpse of Boulder Creek in the city of Boulder, it was clear, but I was unable to ascertain whether the stream level would make wading and fishing difficult. Once I parked along the creek at my chosen starting point, I concluded that Boulder Creek was my destination, or at least I would sample it before entertaining alternatives. I assembled my Sage four weight in response to the higher flows and angled down to the creek to begin my Monday adventure. The flows were indeed higher than normal, and when I checked the DWR web site upon my return, I was informed that the creek ran in the low 100 CFS range during my time on the water. The sky was mostly clear with periodic large clouds, but by the early afternoon, the temperature elevated to the upper seventies, and I was quite warm.

Lots of Pocket Water

I began my day with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. Initially the hopper was attracting refusals, and the nymphs were ignored, so I swapped the hopper for a medium olive body hippie stomper. The stomper and hares ear were quite popular, and I upped the fish count to eleven by the time that I paused for lunch a few minutes before noon. Of the first eleven fish landed, two slammed the hippie stomper, and the remainder snatched the trailing beadhead hares ear nymph.

Hares Ear Feast

Promising on the Right

Just before lunch I suffered through nearly forty-five minutes of absolute frustration. First, I hooked a small brown trout, and as I played the fish it managed to slip free, and the pent up energy of the rod caused the flies to catapult to an evergreen limb high above me. There was no hope of rescue, so I applied direct pressure and snapped off a hippie stomper and hares ear. After reconfiguring my entire rig, I continued upstream, and I approached a section with some overhanging branches. In my effort to sling a cast under the nuisance branches, I hooked a dead limb high above me. Once again I applied pressure and left the stomper dangling off the dead branch with the hares ear embedded in the bark. I put my rod down and searched for a long pole that would enable me to rescue the flies, and I eventually found an effective tool. It was a long heavy branch with a Y that resembled a large divining rod. I hoisted the log upward and applied direct pressure to the bare stick that stole my flies, and after a few seconds the branch snapped. You can probably guess the outcome. The broken branch fell a yard or so below me in some heavy current, and I was unable to react quickly enough to capture it, as my flies floated away to the Gulf of Mexico. I resigned myself to tying yet another lineup of flies to my line; however, in this case I utilized a size 10 classic Chernobyl ant instead of the hippie stomper.

Zoomed a Bit Closer

For most of the remainder of the afternoon I prospected upstream with the Chernobyl and hares ear dry/dropper, and I raised the fish count to seventeen. The catch rate definitely slowed from the morning session, but the results were steady and held my attention. By 1:45 I grew weary of trying to track the small yellow indicator of the Chernobyl in the riffled surface water, so I replaced it with a hopper Juan, and I began to experiment with replacements for the hares ear. First, I knotted a salvation to my line, but by itself it failed to produce. Next I opted for an ultra zug bug as the top fly and experimented with a second nymph; in this case the salvation. The salvation delivered one brown trout, and then the action slowed to a halt.

Pretty Catch

I recalled that the hippie stomper attracted quite a few refusals, so I reverted to a double dry approach that included a peacock body hippie stomper and size 14 gray stimulator. Just before I quit, I lobbed the double dries to a small shaded nook with a bubble line, and a small brown trout appeared to eat the hippie stomper for number nineteen on the day.

Certainly a Trout in This Pool

I was pleased to post a nineteen fish day on Monday, July 25, although the largest fish was probably only ten inches long. The bulk of the counted fish were in the six to eight inch range. Nevertheless, I was challenged to cast to the most productive locations and to select the flies that the local feeders would favor. The last hour or so was quite slow, and I was uncertain whether to blame the warm air temperatures and bright sun or the section of stream that tumbled fast due to a higher gradient. I hustled back to the car at 2:30PM, and I managed to complete the drive from Boulder to south Denver in time to join the group of eight for a very vigorous pickleball session.

Fish Landed: 19


Buena Vista Pond – 07/21/2022

Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: McPhelemy Park

Buena Vista Pond 07/21/2022 Photo Album

I met Jane on Wednesday at McPhelemy Park in Buena Vista after fly fishing on the Arkansas River, and we left her bike locked to a bike rack, while we continued on to our AirBnB. After finding our lodging for the next few nights, we returned to the park, and I suggested we do a bike ride around Buena Vista. I spotted some sections of lower Cottonwood Creek before the confluence with the Arkansas River that were marked as public on my river map, and I wanted to explore the area and accessibility to the stream. When we returned to McPhelemy Park, I cycled around the perimeter of the small pond, and I observed quite a few rising fish. I filed this observation away for future reference.

After whitewater rafting on Thursday morning, our gang returned to the AirBnB, and Jane and Amy S. decided to take a short bike ride. I jumped on this opportunity to return to McPhelemy Park in case the trout were once again hungry. Upon my arrival I quickly assembled my Sage four weight and opted to wade wet. I marched a short distance to the western edge of the pond just below some overhanging branches from a large tree. Almost immediately I spotted several fish in a regular feeding pattern. I did not see an obvious food source responsible for the steady feeding, so I plucked a size 16 deer hair caddis with an olive-brown body from my fly box and tied it to the end of my leader.

Caddis Eater

I flicked a few casts toward the area below the trees and gradually lengthened my line, until the fly fluttered down twenty yards from the bank. Thwack! A fish rose and inhaled my tiny caddis, and an energetic fight ensued. Eventually I guided a fat thirteen inch rainbow trout into my net. The fly was taken fairly deeply, but I was able to remove it with my hemostats without injury. After I released the trout, I resumed my casting, but three young children were playing on a SUP just above the tree limb area, and their splashing and creation of waves put the fish down. I supplemented my offering with a hippie stomper trailing the adult caddis and persisted in my pursuit of trout, until I was accosted by a young man, who asked if he could borrow one of my flies.

I was quite impressed with the boldness of the youth, so I paused to examine his set up. He was slinging a spinning rod with a squirmy worm knotted to the line, but the line was not monofilament. I removed a length of tippet from my spool and extended it for twelve inches from the bend of the squirmy and then attached a bright green caddis pupa. I went back to my spot and managed to temporarily connect with another trout, but it jumped high above the surface and slid free of the small caddis. I glanced to the right and noticed that my new friend, Seth from Texas, dug into his tackle box and pulled out a small bobber. This gave me a new idea, so I asked Seth to cut off the squirmy worm and swivel, and I then proceeded to tie a surgeon’s knot that extended monofilament from the spinning line. Seth clamped the bobber to the running line, and I knotted a size 16 caddis to the end of the monofilament. Seth was now the proud owner of a bubble set up. I moved back to the area with the branches, and Seth began lobbing casts to the middle of the lake fifteen yards below me. As I executed several more casts, I watched Seth through my peripheral vision, and suddenly he lifted the rod, and I spotted some wild thrashing behind the float. Seth hooked and landed a trout on the caddis and bubble system that I set up for him. He was beyond excited, and I was admittedly a bit pumped myself.

Lots of Splashing

I decided to move north of the tree branches and the thrashing kids, so I circled around and left Seth to his solo efforts. I told him that he could keep the fly. I next perched next to the lake just below some protruding exposed dead sticks, and once again a few fish revealed their presence with some sporadic rises. A dad and three sons occupied the opposite bank and the area just above me, where Cottonwood Creek entered the pond, so I was constrained a bit in my ability to move. I remained in this general area for the remainder of my time on the lake, and I managed another temporary hook up. I also replaced the adult caddis with a zebra midge larva, beadhead hares ear, and emerald caddi pupa, but the dry/dropper ploy never produced results on the Buena Vista Pond.

Looking For Rises

I landed one nice thirteen inch rainbow in one hour of fly fishing, and it was a respectable thirteen inch fish. In addition, I hooked and failed to land three additional fish, but I assisted Seth in his foray into bubble fishing. I only had an hour to spare, and I was quite entertained by the Buena Vista pond. The small body of water was the home of multiple activities, and I was a bit frustrated by the alternative commotions, but it was fun nonetheless.

Fish Landed: 1

Arkansas River – 07/20/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 11:15AM; 12:15PM – 2:30PM

Location: The Numbers and The Tunnel area

Arkansas River 07/20/2022 Photo Album

I decided to try a new section of the Arkansas River called The Numbers on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. The fishing map indicated that lots of public access was available in that area.

It was sunny and warm by 10AM, when I began to fish, but after disappointing results on Tuesday, which I attributed to hot weather, I hoped that an earlier start would increase my odds of success. I parked at a pullout where The Numbers entry road branched off to a private bridge, but another angler arrived, as I was arranging my gear. I was not keen on  a game of hopscotch, so I asked Ladd (the other man’s name) if there were parking spots along the entry road to The Numbers boat launch, and he replied that there were, but a pass was required. I told him I had a state parks pass, and he said he did not, so I departed and drove another .3 mile to a small gravel pullout.

The Numbers

I put together my Loomis five weight and hiked across some sagebrush to the edge of the river. The Arkansas was flowing along swiftly and crystal clear. I rigged with a yellow fat Albert, Pat’s rubber legs, and an iron sally and covered .8 mile of river, until I reached the parking lot at 11:15AM. Along the way I swapped the rubber legs for an emerald caddis pupa and moved the iron sally to the upper position. That combination failed to click, and eventually I traded the caddis pupa for a salvation nymph. All I had to show for my 1.25 hour morning effort was a pair of looks from some brown trout. I did not care for the river structure in the area, as it was mostly wide with uninteresting shallow riffles and long and fast sweeping glides and runs.


When I climbed the bank to the parking lot, I was alerted to a storm cloud in the southwest by a flash of lightning, so I quickly hoofed back on the road to my car. I decided to head south to the tunnels area, and I encountered wet and muddy road conditions, thus evidence that the rainstorm preceded me. I parked beyond the last tunnel and ate my lunch, and then I launched my second foray on to the Arkansas River. I was perplexed by the fact that a week earlier on the same river I enjoyed a twenty-five fish day on a float trip. The section was ten river miles south, but it did not seem like that would make a huge difference.


And Another

I persisted with the fat Albert, iron sally, and salvation nymph; as these flies, particularly the nymphs, were almost the exact same flies that my guide utilized with great success a week earlier. I spent the next two plus hours prospecting the ten yards of water along the bank, and I managed to avoid a skunking by landing three brown trout in the twelve inch range. Two of the aggressive feeders nabbed the salvation, and the other grabbed the iron sally. All three fish materialized from deep and slower moving areas next to large exposed boulders, and the action occurred in the first hour of the afternoon.


The second hour could be characterized as a long period of futility. I marched along the right side of the river and dropped casts in all the likely spots, but the fish were in a state of constant lockjaw. Several brief rain showers kept the temperature somewhat in check, so I cannot blame a bright clear sky. I saw virtually no insects on the river except for some small caddis on the bushes; whereas, yellow sallies and pale morning duns were present in decent numbers during the float trip a week prior. I attribute my disappointing results on Wednesday to the lack of trout food on the Arkansas River.

Fish Landed: 3


Arkansas River – 07/19/2022

Time: 1:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Railroad Bridge area

Arkansas River 07/19/2022 Photo Album

Jane and I reserved a campsite at Railroad Bridge and made the drive from Denver on July 19, 2022. We departed at 10:00AM and arrived at 12:30PM. The sun was bright, and it was quite warm, so after I ate my lunch, we erected the canopy to create some much needed shade. I quickly pulled together my fishing gear including my Loomis two piece five weight, and I set off down the trail to the river.

Ready to Go

During the afternoon a few passing clouds provided some breaks from the high sun, but direct sunshine mostly ruled the skies. The river was in superb condition at 700 CFS, and extreme clarity was apparent. I began with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper and then added an iron sally and salvation nymph. My first two bouts of action were refusals to the hopper, but eventually I began to connect with fish. From 1:30PM until 3:00PM I landed seven trout, all browns. One fine specimen measured twelve inches, and another pair registered eleven, while the remainder were in the six to ten inch range. The pool toy duped one trout, two favored the salvation, and the remainder grabbed the iron sally.

Not Bad

I noticed a few fluttering caddis on the streamside vegetation; but, otherwise the river seemed devoid of aquatic insect life. For the final thirty minutes I converted to a double dry that included a peacock hippie stomper and a yellow stimulator. The stimulator and stomper produced a few temporary connections, but none advanced to my net. I swapped the stimulator for a size gray deer hair caddis and a size 14 purple haze, but none of the dry flies delivered.

Pocket Water Everywhere

Seams and depth next to fast water and rocky structure provided the best results. Many promising spots failed to deliver, and the fishing was average at best. I worked hard for seven fish in 2.5 hours. At 3:50PM I stopped to deploy my stream thermometer, and after being submerged for two minutes, it registered 64 degrees. This was near the upper limit of safe fishing, and it gave me a sound reason to call it quits at 4:00PM. It also perhaps explains my lack of action during the last forty-five minutes. Tomorrow, Wednesday, I plan to fish the Arkansas again, but an earlier start is probably in my future.

Fish Landed: 7

Lottis Creek – 07/14/2022

Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Location: From the highway upstream beyond the campground

Lottis Creek 07/14/2022 Photo Album

I drove from the Taylor River back to our campsite. Jane returned from her nine mile hike, and some thunder sounded in the west. I exchanged my Scott five weight for my Sage four weight, given the smaller stream dimensions of Lottis Creek.

I hiked from the campground to the bridge, where the highway crosses the creek, and I worked my way upstream. The sky was dark and gloomy the entire time, and I wore my raincoat through steady rain for the last half hour.


Initially I tossed a classic Chernobyl size 10 solo, and the fish count quickly bounced to four. At that point the action slowed, and I added a hares ear on an eighteen inch dropper. I was anxious to discover whether I was bypassing fish that were willing to get their meals below the surface. I covered a lot of the stream with the dry/dropper and cherry picked spots with depth and built the count to seven. Most of the second wave of fish that I landed grabbed the trailing hares ear.

Struggling Against Rubber

Nice for Small Stream

An extended dry spell motivated me to make another switch, and I went double dry with an olive hippie stomper and a size 14 yellow stimulator. Two of the last three fish bashed the stimulator and one crushed the stomper.

Ten fish in 1.5 hours was a success in my book. A pair of twelve inch browns topped the chart, with the remainder falling in the six to nine inch range.

Fish Landed: 10

Under the Branch Looks Prime

Taylor River – 07/14/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Vicinity of Lodgepole Campground

Taylor River 07/14/2022 Photo Album

During our guided float trip on Tuesday our guide mentioned that he attended a wedding at Harmel’s Ranch Resort along the Taylor River. He reported that he spent a few hours fly fishing the Taylor River, and green drakes were the food of choice. My ears perked up, since I knew that Jane and I reserved a campsite at Lottis Creek Campground along the Taylor River on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, July 13 and 14. Would I encounter my favorite hatch, the western green drake?

The day began with the temperature in the low sixties, but the appearance of the sun in clear skies caused the thermometer to rise to the seventies by lunch time. During the afternoon some heavy clouds rolled in, and this kept the temperature in check in the low to mid seventies. I slipped Dave G.’s Scott five weight from the tube and assembled it for another day of fly fishing. Dave G. loaned me the Scott while the broken tip on my Sage One gets repaired. The river was cascading along in the low 400 CFS range, and it was crystal clear.

Near My Start

I began my venture with a size 8 fat Albert, Pat’s rubber leg, and a prince nymph. I was hoping the green drake nymphs and stoneflies were on the main menu for Taylor River trout. After a decent amount of time with no action, I switched to an iron sally and a salvation nymph. and after the change I landed two small brown trout; one on the salvation and a second on the iron sally. Eventually I swapped the fat Albert for an olive hippie stomper while retaining the iron sally and salvation, and this trio of flies yielded the most success. The majority of the landed trout grabbed the salvation nymph. Number three and four were easily the best fish of the day, as a fifteen inch brown and sixteen inch rainbow nabbed the salvation.  Add three or four twelve inch browns to the mix with the remainder being relatively small browns, and you have a solid picture of my day on the Taylor.

Impressive Number Three

Taking Off

Taylor River Brown Trout

Between 12:30PM and 1:30PM, there was a sparse pale morning dun hatch and a fairly heavy yellow sally emergence. This coincided with my best action on the salvation nymph. I covered quite a bit of stream real estate and found a new crossing point at 3PM, at which point I ended my day with dark clouds rolling in from the west. I failed to observe a single green drake, and I concluded I should have driven farther downstream to where the hatch begins earlier in the season.

Fish Landed: 11

Very Attractive Pool and Run

Arkansas River – 07/12/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Lower Browns Canyon

Arkansas River 07/12/2022 Photo Album

Tuesday, July 12, was the second day of my scheduled guided float trips with my friend, Dave G. Originally Dave G. and I were convinced that we would be drifting the middle section of the Colorado River; however, the water managers were holding back water in Dillon and Green Mountain Reservoirs, and this action in turn caused the Colorado River flows to shrink to the 600 CFS range. With high daytime temperatures across Colorado in the eighties, there was not enough volume to buffer the river from the heat, and afternoon temperatures climbed to unsafe levels for catching and handling fish.

Butterfly at Our Launch Point

Our guide, Reed, proposed altering our plans to float the upper Roaring Fork River or the Arkansas River. I had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning, so I opted for the Arkansas River, as it posed fewer logistical problems for returning to Denver on Tuesday night after the float. Dave G. and I met Reed at a parking lot in Buena Vista, and he transported us the remainder of the way to our launch point.

Reed Prepares for a Float Trip

The Arkansas River flows were in the 700 CFS range and very clear. The natural volume of water was being augmented by releases from Twin Lakes to maintain favorable conditions for whitewater rafting and fishing. The high temperature on Tuesday was around eighty degrees, but decent cloud cover was present for most of our time on the river, and two brief thunderstorms cooled things down considerably.

Smooth Sailing

I manned the forward position in the raft during the morning and then switched to the back at 1:00PM, and then I switched back to the front for the final thirty minutes of our float. While I was in the front position, I fished a double dry that consisted of a tan size 12 parachute dry fly along with a rusty pale morning dun dry, and I built the fish count to eight by the time we switched positions. The first five fish landed were decent brown trout that sipped the trailing PMD.

PMD Imitation Worked All Day

After our position change at 1PM I stuck with the double dry and elevated the fish count to twelve by 2:30. At 2:30PM Reed noticed a greater density of pale morning duns fluttering up from the river’s surface. I was in the rear position, and upon Reed’s suggestion I switched to the five weight Scott with a dry/dropper rig, and the catch rate suddenly improved significantly, although it was pretty steady even before the switch.

Perhaps My Best of the Day

By the time we quit at 4:00PM, the count rested on twenty-five. Most of the afternoon fish latched on to a winged pale morning dun nymph with lots of flash. The iron sally never produced, and a pair of trout gulped the large parachute lead fly. During the 2:30 to 3:30PM time frame I enjoyed much success with lifting, jigging, and swinging the dry/dropper at the tail of runs, in front of rocks, and through riffles of moderate depth.


Our guide, Reed, worked hard to position the boat in favorable spots for the front and back fisherman. In addition, he paddled upstream in many promising spots to enable nose upstream drifts.

Tuesday was a fun and productive day on the Arkansas River. The average size of the trout was probably in the thirteen to fourteen inch range with a few smaller fish to round out the count. All but two of the landed fish were of the brown trout variety. The Arkansas River continues to be a productive destination in 2022, and I have plans to return next week.

Fish Landed: 25

Arkansas River – 07/06/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Down river from Salida

Arkansas River 07/06/2022 Photo Album

In my effort to catch Colorado freestone rivers during their downward spiral in flows, I made the drive to the Arkansas River on Wednesday, July 6. I enjoyed a very successful day on 06/27/2022, when the flows were elevated at 1150 CFS, and I was anxious to sneak in another trip, before the river dropped to more normal levels. The ArkAnglers report for Monday, July 4 cited discoloration as a result of local thunderstorms, but it suggested that the river would clear by Tuesday, and I was making the trip on Wednesday. The middle section of the Arkansas was less affected by the rain, so I had a backup plan in case of too much turbidity.

Let the Fun Begin

I arrived at a dirt pullout along the Arkansas below Salida by 10:20AM, and this allowed me to be on the river ready to cast by 11:00AM. My travel time was affected significantly by some slow moving tractor/trailers from Trout Creek Pass until the turn off from US 285 to cut through Salida. I was not a happy driver. The air temperature was in the upper seventies, as I rigged Dave G.’s Scott five weight, and at least four to five feet of visibility existed along the banks  of the river. I decided to fish the section below Salida and forego a reversal to the middle section of the Arkansas River.

Three to Four Feet of Visibility

I began my quest for Arkansas River trout with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, a green-black Pat’s rubber legs, and a size 12 prince nymph. My starting point was one hundred yards down river from where I quit on Monday, June 27, and I began working my way upstream at a steady pace, while I probed all the likely fish holding locations. Between 11:00AM and noon I registered two trout including a small brown and another respectable brown trout in the fourteen inch range. The prince did not produce in the early going, so I swapped it for an iron sally and eventually a salvation nymph. The Pat’s rubber legs generated the larger of the two fish, and the salvation fooled the smaller cousin.

Early Beast

Just before lunch I set the hook on a virtual fish, and my excessive lift hurled the three fly dry/dropper into a tall tree behind me. I assessed the situation, and determined that I was unable to rescue the flies, so I exerted direct force on the line and snapped off all three. The reader would not wish to hear the string of expletives that gushed from my mouth. I used the three fly break off as an excuse to eat my lunch, and then I replaced the three flies with the same lineup. The fat Albert, Pat’s rubber legs, and salvation nymph remained on my line throughout the afternoon, and I gradually built the fish count from two to eleven. During this time the Pat’s rubber legs produced 60% of the landed trout, and the salvation nymph accounted for the remainder. My efforts during this time were plagued by a significant number of temporary hook ups, and I blamed them on the smaller salvation and the possibility of a dull hook point.

Next to the Rock

Seam Produced

Pleasant Surprise

By 2:30PM I was locked on eleven fish, and the catch rate slowed even more from an already average pace. I debated an early exit in order to jump start my long drive back to Denver, but I fell victim to the angler disease of “I will check out one more nice pool”. Some dark clouds moved in, and the temperature dropped, and I fished for another hour and experienced my best fishing of the day. I boosted the fish count to eighteen, before I quit, and the middle afternoon catch included two very fine rainbow trout in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. These fish had beautiful coloration, and surprisingly they gulped the fat Albert.  The average size of the other fish landed during this time period was also superior to my results earlier in the day.

Ready to Run

Bank Pocket

Gorgeous Spot Pattern

Wednesday evolved into a successful day in terms of both quantity and quality. The average size of the fish lagged my June 27 outing somewhat; however, I was quite pleased with the five trout in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. Between 2:00 and 2:30 PM a brief pale morning dun emergence developed, but it only lasted for twenty minutes, and I never observed a single rising fish. I did seem to enjoy more action with my salvation nymph during this time frame. and lifting and jigging seemed to generate more interest from the trout, particularly those that occupied the space in front of large subsurface and exposed rocks at the tail of a run. The Arkansas River treated me well this spring and early summer. I suspect my next visit will take me to the middle river in the Buena Vista area. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 18