Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: .5 mile up trail
After three previous visits to this high country creek, I harbored high expectations for a stellar day of fly fishing on the last day of August. The weather was a bit warmer than desired, as I began my short hike at 10:00AM with the dashboard thermometer registering in the mid-sixties. By the time I quit in the late afternoon, it was probably around eighty degrees. The flows were seasonally low, but as expected for late summer.
I began my backcountry adventure with my Orvis Access four weight, and I tied on an olive body hippie stomper and trailed a beadhead hares ear, but the early going was disappointing, as numerous refusals to the hippie stomper ruled my progression upstream. A few fish below six inches managed to get their tiny mouths around the size 14 stomper, but disappointment ruled the first twenty minutes. All the action was on top, and the nymph was irrelevant, so I swapped the dropper for a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. I finally kick started the fish counter with an eleven inch brown trout and a couple barely six inch browns on the caddis, but prime spots were not producing as expected. This was not the creek I remembered from previous visits.
I began a period of experimentation, which included a brief marriage to a size 10 classic Chernobyl ant. The Chernobyl was treated as inert flotsam, so I switched to a size 14 parachute green drake. Initially the drake duped a few eager small browns, but then it also reached a state of ineffectiveness. I gazed inside my fly box and settled on a size 14 yellow stimulator. Surely this small creek was the home to yellow sallies and golden stoneflies. To some degree the move paid off, and I augmented the count to nine by 11:45AM, when I grabbed a mossy seat on a rock and munched my lunch.
Although I managed nine trout during my morning session, the size of the fish was disappointing, with most in the six to nine inch range. The most productive water types were marginal small pockets and short riffles; the types of locales, where one would expect smaller fish. The deep, prime holes were inexplicably not revealing larger trout.
Just before lunch I snapped off the yellow stimulator on a branch during a backcast, so I replaced it with an olive size 14 stimulator. This fly continued my record of spotty success, and I eventually added a size 14 olive deer hair caddis on a one foot dropper. The double dries enabled me to build the fish count to twelve, but I sensed that I was missing out on trout in attractive pools.
I decided to resort to my bread and butter approach…a dry/dropper with two subsurface flies. I knew I was risking snags and tangles, but I was desperate for more consistent action. After a brief pause for reconfiguration, my line featured an olive hippie stomper, salvation nymph, and a black sunk ant. Finally the stream residents began to respond, and before I quit at 3:30PM, the fish count blossomed to twenty-five. The size of the trout improved with a thirteen inch brown in the mix for the best of the day award, and a few eleven and twelve inch fighters also visited my net.
All was not perfect, however, as the three fly arrangement led to an abundant quantity of nasty tangles. The main cause of this frustration was a small fish eating the leading stomper and then twisting the two trailers in a ridiculous pattern of tight loops. Needless to say, this fisherman was not happy with the adverse circumstances.
Wednesday evolved into a decent day numbers wise, but size of fish was a negative compared to earlier trips to this high country jewel. It did seem that somewhat larger fish appeared, as I moved farther away from my parking space, so my next venture will likely entail a longer hike. The conventional wisdom of getting away from a parking lot or campground seems to apply. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day in the Rocky Mountains, and for that I am thankful.
Fish Landed: 25