Monthly Archives: September 2022

Arkansas River – 09/28/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Downstream from Salida

Arkansas River 09/28/2022 Photo Album

After a mildly disappointing fly fishing day on Tuesday (great wildlife viewing), I decided to make the long drive to the Arkansas River. The weather was projected to be very nice with high temperatures in the low seventies and clear skies and sunshine for most of the day. In fact, the lack of cloud cover was a concern, as I planned my fly fishing adventure. The Arkansas River is primarily a brown trout fishery, so spawning interest overshadowing feeding was another issue, but I concluded that the larger and warmer river at lower elevation meant spawning season was later in October. Being able to park next to the river, and the avoidance of a lengthy hike also appealed to my sensibilities on Wednesday.

Fish Number One Emerged Along the Right Edge in This Run

The drive to the Arkansas River took three hours and fifteen minutes, as I overcame heavy traffic on I70 in Denver and a slow moving dump truck during the early stages of my climb over Kenosha Pass. I also had the misfortune to endure two areas with road construction, where I was forced to stop and wait to funnel through one lane of traffic. A final hurdle to my arrival was a detour from Fairplay to Hartsel and then west to Trout Creek Pass. A trip that normally requires two hours and forty-five minutes extended to three hours and fifteen minutes. This angler was not happy.

Nice Shelf Pool

The dashboard digital display registered a temperature in the low sixties at the start of my fly fishing venture, and the thermometer probably peaked in the low seventies with minimal cloud cover. The flows were 352 CFS at Salida, and water clarity was excellent.

Love the Shadow

Tilted to View Spot Pattern

Two other anglers arrived at my chosen pullout before me, and as I prepared to fish, they crossed the river and headed downstream. This was my anticipated destination, and I debated hiking along the highway and crossing at a lower point above the island to cut them off, but in the end I relented and crossed the river to the north shore and worked my way upstream. I covered .8 miles between 11:15 and 3:30, and I managed to land five brown trout. The catch rate was abysmal, however, all five trout were quite nice. One was around twelve inches, but the others approximated fourteen to fifteen inches, and they were quite chunky.

Golden Brown

Perfect Trout Water

I used my Sage R8 four weight, and I cast a dry/dropper for most of my time on the water. A tan size 8 pool toy hopper was the featured surface fly, until I switched to a peacock hippie stomper for the final forty-five minutes. For nymphs I cycled through an iron sally, salvation nymph, hares ear nymph, and 20 incher. The hippie stomper was accompanied by a size 16 muggly caddis with a tannish body for the final forty-five minutes. The first trout landed grabbed the iron sally, and then the next one fell for a salvation nymph. The hares ear attracted the twelve inch brown, and the muggly caddis was the target of the final two brown trout.


Double Dry Water

I spent the day making a ridiculous number of relatively long casts, and I covered a significant amount of river in order to attain my five fish count. The double dry combination seemed to be the most effective, and I probably should have experimented with it sooner. Had I worked the north bank with the double dries and confined my casts to areas with moderate depth and medium current speed, I suspect I would have generated more success. The clear sky, bright sun and lack of any discernable insect activity probably explained my slow day.

In spite of the low catch rate, the quality of my catch was outstanding, and the warmth was a welcome change after several chilling experiences.

Fish Landed: 5

St. Vrain Creek – 09/27/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: West of Lyons, CO

St. Vrain Creek 09/27/2022 Photo Album

Jane and I returned from a weekend trip to Oregon, and I once again felt the itch to cast my line. The high temperature on Tuesday was projected to reach the upper seventies, and this generally translates to ten to fifteen degrees cooler at high elevation, so I decided to visit a high country stream, while the the temperatures remained conducive to fly fishing.

I arrived at the trailhead parking lot and assembled my Orvis Access four weight and began my hike. I decided to forego my usual longer hike and cut to the edge of the stream after fifteen minutes. I was skeptical that the stream was significantly more pressured .4 miles from the trailhead than 2 miles on this creek. The temperature, as I embarked, was 53 degrees, but I wore my short sleeved quick dry undershirt and packed my other layers. I planned to swap out my under layer, once I completed my hike.

High Gradient

My plan worked quite well, although that fact is probably more attributable to my short hike in cool conditions. I knotted an olive hippie stomper to my line and began to lob casts to likely trout lies, but I detected no sign of fish life in the first twenty minutes. I paused and added a salvation nymph, in case the fish were hanging deeper in the water column, and this ploy yielded a pair of small brook trout, although initiating the fish count necessitated abundant casts and covering quite a bit of quality trout water. I managed to guide one more brook trout, that chomped the hippie stomper, into my net, before I endured a long dry spell. Mixed among my three landed trout were a number of refusals to the stomper, so I decided to try a double dry with an olive-brown size 16 caddis as my trailing fly. The small dry fly proved its worth, and I nudged the fish count to five including my first cutthroat. I sensed that I was passing up prime spots with no results, and I began to question my decision to jump into the creek so close to the trailhead, so I exited and found the main trail and hiked west for an additional two miles. This delivered me to a stretch that I fished previously, and based on that experience I knew that a decent fish population was present.

Prime Time

First Cutthroat

After lunch I continued my pursuit of trout, but the productivity of the creek did not really change substantially. The fish count grew from five to eleven by the time I quit at 3:30PM, but six fish in 2.5 hours was a mediocre catch rate at best. I modified my fly lineup by replacing the salvation with a sunken ant for awhile, but the terrestrial never produced a fish. Eventually I returned to the stomper and salvation combination, but nearly all the afternoon landed fish chose the hippie stomper. I lost two salvations to tree branches and finished my day with a size 18 pheasant tail nymph, but it was ignored by the resident fish.

Fine Pool

The positive from the afternoon was netting three gorgeous cutthroat trout in the eleven inch range. These trout grabbed the salvation nymph in relatively shallow riffles. On the day, I landed six brook trout and five cutthroats, and this was highly unusual for a stream that normally produces 80% brook trout and 20% cutthroats. I concluded that the brook trout were in spawning mode; and, thus, procreation superseded appetite. I observed some spawning action in a shallow slow moving side pool, and that confirmed my suspicions. I blamed my early lack of success on my short hike, but in reality I now believe it was more related to the advent of the spawning cycle in the high country stream environment. Another significant factor was the seasonally low and clear state of the creek. In spite of my efforts to approach promising locations carefully, I noted some spooked fish, as they darted after a cast or two.


Extended Out

At approximately 2PM I was standing in the middle of a narrow section of the stream, when I heard some strange sounds approaching from behind and to the left. I glanced to my left, and I was shocked to see a large dark form trotting along the south bank. It was a black bull moose, but it seemed to ignore me and wandered along the stream and crossed thirty yards above me. I pulled out my camera and started shooting a video of the intruder, just as it approached the creek, but while this transpired, I heard more tromping from behind accompanied by a sort of low moaning and wheezing sound. I pivoted with the camera, and captured a second albeit much larger moose, as it emerged from the forest. Unlike moose number one, this one stopped no more than thirty feet to my left, and it stared down at me, while I returned the look. I ended the video, but before I stuffed the camera back in my carrier, I snapped a still photo. Needless to say, I was in an elevated state of fear, until the massive beast moved on. It headed toward the southwest, but eventually I saw it turn right, and it wandered slowly toward the creek. I whipped out my camera and poised it, and recorded another short video, as the large mammal crossed the creek at the same spot as moose number one. My heart raced. In retrospect my brief state of fear was outweighed by the awesome sighting of two moose in close proximity. The size of these majestic critters is absolutely stunning, and the antlers on the second moose were ridiculous. Imagine how strong their necks must be to carry that rack around continuously.

Surprise Visitor

Nice Brook Trout

My fishing experience on Tuesday was decidedly mediocre, but wildlife viewing was first rate. My focus on high country streams during warm fall days was solid reasoning, but I needed to factor in the risk of brook and brown trout fall spawning. This logic points me toward streams populated by a higher ratio of rainbows, cutbows and cutthroats for future fly fishing adventures. Also, larger rivers and streams in the valleys at lower elevation remain warmer and, consequently the spawn is more delayed. Stay tuned for more fall fishing adventures.

Fish Landed: 11

Another Tough Lie

Nice Color Here






South Boulder Creek – 09/21/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/21/2022 Photo Album

Having finally recovered from an intense but enjoyable four days in the Flattops area, I once again set my sights on a day of fly fishing along the Front Range. I quickly checked on South Boulder Creek, and I noted that the flows were recently adjusted to 86 CFS. I checked other Front Range possibilities, but this action was simply an exercise in thoroughness, because 86 CFS is near my ideal range, and I was sold on a trip to the small tailwater almost immediately. Weather, however, was the one negative, as high temperatures for Pinecliffe were projected to be 55 degrees, and rain was an increasing likelihood from 2:00PM on. I decided to take the risk of another day of bad weather and departed from Denver on Wednesday morning.

Three vehicles arrived in the Kayak parking lot, while I prepared to fish. One angler dressed in shorts departed with his dog, before I was prepared to do the same. I knew that Wednesday was destined to be a chilly day, so I wore my light down coat over my quick dry undershirt and fishing shirt and stuffed a long sleeved Under Armour thermal shirt in my backpack along with my raincoat. I opted for my Loomis two piece five weight, because I enjoyed it on two days of fly fishing small streams in the Flattops. I recognized that I was at a high risk of overheating on my inbound hike, but I did not have a proper place to stow my light down coat.

A Small Amount of Color Change

My concerns were well founded, and when I perched along the creek and configured my line, I felt the clammy wetness of my undershirt. In fact, I sensed that the perspiration had soaked through to my fishing shirt. I was relatively warm from the exertion, so I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line and began to cast to likely spots with the hope that the atmosphere would warm, or the layers would wick away the sweat. These were both bad assumptions, and although I set a goal to last until lunch before making changes, I was forced to deal with my sweaty state by 11:30AM. High gray clouds blocked the sun throughout the morning, and when a breeze commenced, I felt very uncomfortable. I stripped down to my bare chest and attempted to sop up the perspiration on my upper body, before I snugged on my Under Armour layer. It instantly felt better. I skipped my fishing shirt and went right to the down coat as my next layer, even though it displayed signs of sweat in several locations. For my final layer I pulled on my rain shell. I was hopeful that this would seal in my body warmth and block the wind and cold and eventually rain. In addition, I unfolded the earflaps on my hat, and these moves along with my lunch placed me in a tolerable level of comfort, while I continued my efforts to hook and land some South Boulder Creek trout. I rolled up the short sleeved undershirt and fishing shirt and stuffed them in the backpack in place of the raincoat and Under Armour.

Small but Appreciated Early

As mentioned earlier, I began probing the depths of the stream with a peacock hippie stomper, but gorgeous deep pools, that I was certain harbored trout, failed to deliver, so I paused to reload with a Jake’s gulp beetle. Why the beetle? I had decent success with beetles and ants during previous September trips to South Boulder Creek. It was a great thought, but the beetle attracted zero interest, so I paused once again to reconfigure. The surface flies failed to create a refusal, so I concluded that the fish were more focused on subsurface food morsels, and this thought caused me to attach a size 8 tan pool toy hopper along with a prince nymph on a three foot dropper. Although I continued to fish very attractive spots with no results, I did hook and land three small trout on the prince. Even this success, however, did not convince me that I was presenting the desired offering, so I once again began to experiment. I replaced the prince with a salvation nymph with the hope that a pale morning dun nymph imitation might kick start some action, and similar to the prince, it generated a few small fish, but it did not seem to be a prevalent food source.

Sweet Spot

Out of the Water

By noon my fish count rested on seven, and these fish were small and hard to come by. The morning fishing experience was a huge deviation from two earlier days on South Boulder Creek, when green drakes enticed a trout to eat on nearly every cast. Between 12:15PM and 2:00PM I benefitted from my layer rearrangement, and I was at my peak level of comfort for the day, although I was not basking in a glow of satisfying warmth. What I really needed was more fly fishing action to divert my attention away from my body temperature.

Certain Trout Home

Love the Orange Shade of the Lower Body

I was dissatisfied with the dry/dropper results, so I decided to revert to a dry fly approach. Could the South Boulder Creek trout still respond to green drakes? The weather remained quite summerlike up until Wednesday, so it was worth a shot. I knotted a parachute green drake to my line, and it mostly provoked refusals, although I did net a pair of very aggressive feeders with long memories. I liked the visibility of the green drake, so I left it on my line and added a size 16 gray caddis on a one foot dropper. These two flies allowed the fish count to mushroom to double digits, but I was not convinced that I was optimizing my time on the usually productive creek.

Fish the Slick

I concluded that I could generate refusals just as easily with the more buoyant peacock hippie stomper, so I swapped out the parachute green drake, and as I was performing this transition, I noted a small stonefly and a couple small pale morning duns. A few random rises appeared, and I interpreted these as a sign to tie on a PMD comparadun. I replaced the caddis with a size 18 light gray comparadun, and my fortunes suddenly looked promising. For the remainder of my time on the water I probed slower moving pockets, riffles and slicks; and the comparadun became a favorite target of the stream residents, although the stomper nailed its share of takers particularly along faster seams, where the trout had less time to inspect my offering. At some point the comparadun wing became a sparse wisp of deer hair, so I replaced it with a size 16 gray comparadun with a full fan-shaped wing, and this fly maintained the elevated catch rate, although probably a bit slower than the smaller mayfly imitation. Toward the very end of my time on the creek I replaced the comparadun with a classic size 16 Adams, and that fly also accounted for four trout.

Lovely Ink Spots


The fish count moved steadily to twenty-eight, and as this hot action transpired, a light rain began to descend, and the temperature slid downward. I used these factors as an excuse to exit, and I hiked back to the parking lot. Jane and I had a dinner commitment at 6:30PM in south Denver, so that obligation also played into my decision to quit a bit earlier than usual. On my return hike I paused at a spectacular pool, and as I gazed across the deep, smooth water, I noticed that it was boiling with rises. I estimate that at least fifty fish were in a feeding frenzy. I lobbed ten casts with my hippie stomper and Adams, but they were totally ignored by the ravenous feeders. Clearly they were locked into something very small. I did not have time to experiment with fly changes, but I was very curious regarding the source of the surface eating feast, so I stretched my quick seine mesh over the mouth of my net and seined the water for a minute or two. I was not surprised to find a size 20 blue winged olive with perky upright wings, and this explained the scene in front of me. I filed this for future reference and hiked back to the car.

Two Trout from This Pool

Twenty-eight trout in 4.5 hours of fly fishing was appreciated by this avid angler. The size of the fish was average for the South Boulder Creek tailwater, and once I locked in on the comparadun, the catch rate was more than satisfactory. The two hour window, when I caught the most fish, coincided with an increase in insect activity, so perhaps my fly choices were not as important as the time of the day. Nevertheless, I was pleased to post a solid day after green drake season, and I look forward to more trips to South Boulder Creek before the season winds down.

Fish Landed: 28

South Fork of the White River – 09/16/2022

/Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Upstream from South Fork Campground

South Fork of the White River 09/16/2022 Photo Album

A year ago I fly fished the South Fork and enjoyed one of the most spectacular days of 2021. In fact, it was one of the best days of my life. On Friday, September 16 I revisited the same Flattops gem. I did not expect a repeat, but I also could not predict the adventure that unfolded.

My Destination

The sky was very foreboding, as I assembled my Sage R8 four weight. Knowing that I would perspire on my entry hike, I stuffed my raincoat in my fishing backpack. This left me with a quick-dry undershirt, fishing shirt, and light down parka. After a mile of exertion, I was beginning to sweat, and light rain commenced. I paused under a large evergreen for shelter, and removed all my layers, and then dressed again for the impending weather conditions. I began with my fishing shirt next to my skin, and then my light down parka, and finally my raincoat. The move was timely, as it began to rain steadily, and the raincoat contained my body heat; thus, accelerating my perspiration. It rained so hard for a fifteen minute period, that I once again sought the shelter of a large evergreen.

Goodbye Noble Buddy

Tough Fight

By 10:30 I reached my chosen starting point, and the rain subsided to a steady light downpour. I began fishing with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper, a prince nymph and a salvation nymph. I reviewed my post from 2021, and these flies delivered outstanding success, so why not attempt to repeat the magic? It was not long before a twelve inch rainbow smacked the pool toy, but in the process of landing the zealous fighter, the trout created a monster snarl. I was forced to cut off all the flies and essentially start over with my rig.

Pretty Aspen Grove Still Green

The Prize I Was Seeking

Between 10:30AM and noon I landed four trout including a brightly colored and chunky fourteen inch rainbow, but the catch rate lagged 2021, and I developed a severe chill while fishing through steady rain. The air temperature, when I began my hike was 44 degrees, and I checked it before lunch only to discover a modest increase to 48 degrees. During the heaviest period of rain the wind kicked up, and I was forced to address another massive monofilament snarl. Once again I snipped off all three flies, but this time I extended the main dropper below the hopper by a foot to four feet. At least I thought I did. When I began attaching my flies, the long dropper was nowhere to be found, so I uncoiled another four foot length. I was feeling bad about unknowingly littering four feet of 4X, but just as I staged my line to cast, guess what I found wrapped around my fly line? It was the recently missing extended four foot section. I coiled it as best I could and stuffed it in my wader bib pocket for potential later use. As the reader will note, I spent a disproportionate amount of time tending to line issues, and this circumstance along with the weather partially explained my low morning fish count.

So Clear

Take Two

Meanwhile, I was beginning to exhibit a slight shiver, so I stripped down to my bare chest and pulled on the quick-dry undershirt and swapped the sweat drenched fishing shirt back to my backpack. This exchange along with food and pulling down my earflaps allowed me to outlast the rain, but the thought of hiking back to the car surfaced in my brain several times. I stayed with the same three fly configuration for most of my remaining time, although I experimented briefly with an amber ice dub pool toy, an iron sally, a 20 incher, and a go2 caddis pupa. None of the trial flies yielded results.

Head Shot

During the afternoon I improved the fish count to fourteen. Of course, there were some six and seven inch tiddlers, but I also added four robust rainbows and cutbows in the thirteen to fifteen inch range. I also experienced my share of long distance releases, and several of them were respectable fish in the same thirteen to fifteen inch range.

I was considering an end to my day, as I was stuck on fourteen, when I snagged three flies in a dead limb due to a lack of awareness. It was just plain stupid fishing, but I suspected that I could pull on my line and bend the branch down enough to unravel the errant flies. This was not a sure thing, but I thought three flies deserved the effort. I pulled the branch down and broke it off, but my right foot, which supported most of my weight, slipped, and I sat back in some relatively deep current next to an exposed boulder. The ice cold water rushed over the top of my waders, and I was in a state of shock and anger. This episode made my decision to quit a no brainer, and I immediately sloshed back to the car over a considerable distance. Of course, the trail was a slick muddy quagmire that was chewed up by pack horses and hunters. When I eventually dumped my waders in the parking lot, I spilled two quarts from each foot.

Left Center Was the Place to Be

On the plus side, I landed five gorgeous wild rainbows and cutbows in the thirteen to fifteen inch range, and these robust South Fork trout were some of the hardest fighting fish of that size that I encountered. Given my chill early and late and the dunking, I am not sure the effort justified the results. 2022 was a far cry from 2021, but I will likely give the South Fork another chance in the future, if my health permits.

Fish Landed: 14

North Fork of the White River – 09/15/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Flattops Area

North Fork of the White River 09/15/2022 Photo Album

What does one do for an encore after a sixty-three fish day? Read on.

I heard the pitter patter of rain on the roof of my cabin, so I expected a wet day on Thursday; and I was not disappointed. However, with my light down coat, rain shell, and billed hat with earflaps I was reasonably comfortable during my day on the North Fork of the White River. The temperature as I departed the Santa Fe was 48 degrees, and because of overcast conditions, it never climbed above 60 degrees. As was the case on Wednesday, the flows were normal for mid-September.

Nice Run and Pool

Worth a Second Snap

I copied my wildly successful fly choices on Wednesday, and began with a peacock hippie stomper and salvation nymph on my Loomis five weight. I applied ferrule wax to the single connection on the two piece, and separation at the end of the day was a snap compared to Wednesday. During the 1.5 hour morning session I moved quickly in order to get deeper into the national forest than any of my previous visits, and along the way I picked up nine trout. Unlike Wednesday I discovered that this section of the White held 70% rainbows and cutbows, and this nearly reversed the ratio compared to Wednesday. Several morning cutbows were chunky thirteen inch fish, but I also connected with quite a few decent trout that flopped free, just as I was preparing to hoist them toward the net. This circumstance repeated so often that I actually removed the salvation and replaced it with another during lunch with the hope that it contained a sharper hook point.

Deep Gold

Check Out the Orange

Zoomed in Close

After lunch I continued with the stomper and salvation and nudged the fish count to thirteen. Some dense clouds filled the sky in the early afternoon, and I weathered a fifteen minute period of heavy rain. I grew frustrated with the slow period and the difficulty of tracking the hippie stomper in the intermittent glare, so I replaced the stomper with a size 8 tan pool toy. The pool toy/salvation combination enabled the fish count to blossom from thirteen to twenty-four, but once again the nymph accounted for most of the netted trout. As was the case in the morning, but to a lesser degree, I suffered quite a few temporary hook ups with seemingly nice sized cutbows.

Trout Town

Outstanding Markings

When I reached twenty-four, I stumbled into another fish catch rut, so I swapped the pool toy for an amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl. This exchange preceded my arrival at a gorgeous long run and pool along some fallen logs. On my second cast a large trout grabbed the salvation and immediately dashed downstream toward the downstream border of the pool which featured several angled logs. I tried to arrest  the run with side pressure, but the ploy was ineffective, and I stripped in my line devoid of a chubby and salvation. Once again I failed to net one of the best fish encountered during the day.

Tucked Deep to the Logs

Mighty Fine

Classic Rainbow

I was humbled by the experience and replaced the chubby with a classic Chernobyl ant and added another salvation. For the remainder of the afternoon I progressed upstream at a steady pace and augmented the fish tally to thirty-six. Several thirteen to fourteen inch cutbows graced my net during this time. At 3:50PM I decided to fish one last deep hole below a cluster of fallen logs. I landed a small brook trout, but I was convinced the prime location supported some better fish. In a final effort to extract one of these assumed big boys, I added a size 14 prince nymph below the salvation, and I plunked a cast tight to the stick jumble at the top of the run and pool. I was fortunate to avoid a snag, and the Chernobyl dipped thus prompting a swift hook set. Imagine my excitement, when I landed a gorgeous fourteen inch cutbow. The deep golden body filled with large black spots suggested that this fish was more cutthroat than rainbow.

I enjoyed a thirty -six fish day including some stunning cutbows, and I accomplished this in spite of adverse weather conditions. Once again the Flattops delivered outstanding fishing to this appreciative angler.

Fish Landed: 36

North Fork of the White River – 09/14/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: National forest

North Fork of the White River 09/14/2022 Photo Album

Wednesday was an amazing day and a stellar payback for my disappointing Tuesday afternoon. Let me explain.

Ooh and Ah Pool


The last weather forecast that I examined before getting out of cell range on Tuesday predicted a high probability of rain on Wednesday afternoon with a high temperature in the low sixties. This forecast caused me to postpone my hike in to the South Fork, and instead I chose to spend the day on the North Fork, where I was closer to civilization in case of heavy rain. The temperature at 10:00AM was fifty degrees, so I wore my light down parka with my raincoat as an external layer and windbreaker. In addition, I wore my New Zealand billed hat with earflaps. I chose this hat, as it is more compatible with a raincoat hood than my western wide-brimmed head piece. During the morning and early afternoon the sky featured large high clouds and sporadic rain, but thunderstorms and heavy rain never materialized. Some blue sky appeared between 3:00PM and 4:00PM, and I was actually borderline overheated with my layers.

Another Promising Slot

Workhorse Stomper


The flows appeared to be normal for the second week of September, and I took full advantage. I began with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper combined with a size 14 prince nymph and these flies allowed me to build the fish count to nine by the time I adjourned for lunch at noon. Although the morning results were decent, I was plagued with quite a few refusals and temporary connections to the pool toy, so I removed the hopper and shifted to a size 14 peacock body hippie stomper. The ninth fish that I landed snapped off the salvation, as I raised it to my net, so I experimented with the stomper fished solo. The single dry performed admirably, and the fish count climbed to nineteen.

Gold, Pink and Black


At this point in the early afternoon, I suffered through a rare fifteen minute slump, so I added a salvation nymph to the arrangement. Voila! The stomper and salvation remained on center stage, until I quit at 4:30PM. What a winning combination it was, as the fish count exploded to sixty-three! The overwhelming star of the afternoon performance was the salvation nymph, although the hippie stomper continued to be in demand.

On Fire

Fat and Orange Like a Pumpkin

Of course, a huge number of landed trout were brookies in the 6-8 inch range, but I estimate that at least twenty rainbows and cutbow hybrids chomped on my flies during the course of my fly fishing expedition. Of the bow family haul at least ten trout were dynamic finned creatures in the twelve to fifteen inch range. I was quite pleased to interact with these feisty creek residents. I do not wish to overlook the brook trout, as I was fortunate to touch five in the eleven to twelve inch range with brilliant orange bellies. A foot long brook trout is a catch to be proud of. In this small stream environment beauty more than made up for size. As usual, the most productive locations were characterized by depth and length, and as time passed, I became more adept at placing my casts in the higher probability trout locations. Hopefully the torrid high mountain angling can continue on Thursday.

Fish Landed: 63

Closing In

Next to the Foam Produced

North Fork of the White River – 09/13/2022

Time: 1:30PM – 4:30PM

Location: Flattops area

North Fork of the White River 09/13/2022 Photo Album

September 13 was the beginning of my annual four days of fishing in the Flattops area of Colorado. I returned from family reunions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey on Sunday, September 11, and I was anxious to get reacquainted with high country fly fishing. For the past ten years this trip during the second week of September has become a tradition. The five day weather forecast called for sunny and dry on Tuesday, September 13; however, rain was a high probability over the remainder of the week. For the second year in a row I abandoned camping in favor of a small rustic cabin at the Ute Lodge. A bed, flush toilet, running water, a refrigerator and heat qualified as luxury in this remote region of the Flattops.

North Fork of the White River

As usual, I stopped along my route to the Ute Lodge to fish on Tuesday afternoon. The air temperature was in the low sixties, when I arrived at my chosen starting point, and the thermometer probably peaked around 66 degrees, before some dense gray clouds slid in from the west. After thirty minutes of fishing I was forced to don my raincoat, as two brief periods of heavy rain made my effort worthwhile. Toward the end of the afternoon the western sky appeared to be even more threatening, and the wind kicked up and dropped the temperature to 60 degrees. I was on the edge of a significant chill. As I gazed down to the river while preparing to fish, I noted that it seemed lower than previous years, but the flows were easily adequate for my purposes.

Lovely Fish

Speckles Everywhere

I began my quest for White River rainbows and cutbows with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper, a size 14 prince nymph, and a size 16 salvation nymph. Except for the final hour, when I replaced the salvation with an ultra zug bug, these flies remained on my line. I covered .6 mile of river and landed thirteen trout. All the fish that rested in my net were rainbows and cutbows, and the tally included three respectable cutbows in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. I moved fairly quickly and limited my casts to spots with depth and length.

Some Deep Runs

Very Nice Chunk

I must admit that Tuesday was a bit disappointing. Thirteen trout is certainly respectable, however, I traditionally scoop more and larger fish from this section on day one. I sensed that lower flows reduced the number of prime holding spots for larger fish. I also suspect that improved signage denoting public water increased the pressure on this section of the White. Tomorrow is a new day, and the weather forecast predicts a high likelihood of rain. It will be interesting.

Fish Landed: 13

Beaver Creek – 09/02/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: National Forest

Note: In order to protect small high country streams, I have chosen to change the name for a few. This particular creek happens to be one of them. Hopefully the readers will agree that excessive exposure could lead to crowding and lower fish densities.

Beaver Creek 09/02/2022 Photo Album

After completing a hike with my daughter, Amy, along this creek, I was apprehensive about my day of fishing on Friday, September 2, 2022. Although the stream corridor was stunning in beauty, the relatively low and extremely clear flows suggested that stealth and caution would be required to connect with a few fish. In fact, during our hike along the creek, I was unable to observe a single fish in spite of extreme clarity.

The temperature was in the mid-sixties, as I began my hike, and the bright sun and clear skies caused the air temperature to peak around eighty degrees by the time I quit at 3:30PM, but the water temperature remained ice cold from its source at high elevation. When I arrived at my chosen starting point, I knotted a tan pool toy hopper to my line and then added a salvation nymph and a black sunk ant. I was concerned that the three fly dry/dropper might create too much impact and spook the skittish residents, but I was certain that the trout were hiding in the faster and deeper oxygenated runs, and I needed a buoyant top fly to support the two subsurface offerings.

Starting Point

My approach paid dividends in the morning, as I landed nine trout, before I broke for lunch next to a massive hole by a large uprooted tree. The hopper attracted its share of refusals, but it also accounted for four of the nine trout, while three grabbed the salvation and one nipped the sunk ant. Two of the landed AM fish were in the thirteen to fourteen inch range, and they eventually represented my best trout of the day. After lunch I tossed the dry/dropper in the deep slow moving pool next to the root ball, and another respectable thirteen inch brown trout attacked the salvation, as the fish count mounted to ten. I photographed and released the welcome catch, and then I noticed a small triangular slot between the fast current, an exposed boulder and a large rock with a vertical wall. The main current was deflecting off the wall, and this created a nice deep hole upstream of the deflection.  I dropped a short cast in the tight space with no reaction, but a second flick caused the water to erupt, as a heavy trout crushed the hopper, with its momentum carrying it above the surface. I responded with a hook set and then applied side pressure to prevent the prize from heading downstream under a small cluster of branches. My efforts were to no avail, and the irate trout snapped off two flies. By this time I had removed the trailing sunk ant. Needless to say, this angler was quite upset with this turn of events. Not only did I lose perhaps the heaviest fish of the day, but I was now faced with re-rigging my entire setup.

Home to a Nice Brown Trout

Another Fine Brown Trout

I plucked another pool toy hopper from my box and tied it to the 5X tippet. This hopper contained an amber ice dub body, and then I added a new salvation nymph to replicate my previous arrangement. I continued upstream with this combination and elevated the count to twelve, before the frequency of refusals to the hopper forced me to reevaluate.

My Lunch Pool from Below

Salvation in the Corner of the Mouth

I paused and pondered and decided to continue with the dry/dropper, but I downsized the surface fly to a size 14 peacock body hippie stomper. My choice proved to be on the mark, and between 12:30PM and 3:30PM, when I retired, I increased the fish counter from twelve to thirty-four. Five of the afternoon netted trout were browns in the twelve inch range, and the remainder measured between six and eleven inches. The salvation accounted for 60% of these fly eaters, and 40% responded to the hippie stomper.

So Clear!

Happy With This One

I had a blast during my first visit to the high country creek on Friday. I moved steadily and kept my distance from the prime locations. This required longer than normal casts, but fortunately the creek was wide enough to enable long back casts. Deploying only one nymph minimized messy dry/dropper snarls and in turn allowed my flies to be in the water more than in my hands unraveling monofilament snarls. What a joy to watch trout magically materialize from what appeared to be a rocky streambed devoid of life. Even a small fish was a welcome surprise in these challenging conditions.

Hole Along the Ledge

Fun Catch

During my time on the stream, the most productive water type was riffles over moderate depth, and this condition tended to occur at the tail of deep pools. I am always amazed when a trout grabs my nymph, as the top fly accelerates at the lip of a pool, but this was a frequent occurrence on Friday. A few very visual surface grabs of the hopper and stomper in deep runs along the bank were also valued encounters.


Tilted for Effect

My morning apprehension gradually disappeared, as I learned to read the water and coaxed fish from spots that looked devoid of life. The combination of the gorgeous setting; cold, clear water, and willing trout certainly made this a destination I look forward to visiting again in the future.

Fish Landed: 34