Monthly Archives: April 2023

Clear Creek – 04/30/2023

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 04/30/2023 Photo Album

I had a blast on Monday in Eleven Mile Canyon in spite of weather that was only moderately more comfortable than my previous wintry trips, and I anxiously looked forward to additional time on the water, before the true runoff kicked in. Nearly all the drainages in Colorado are at 100% or greater of average snowpack, so snow melt could be strong and lengthy in 2023. Unfortunately two storm fronts rolled through the state during the week, and this held the temperatures down to levels that precluded this angler from fly fishing.

I typically avoid fishing on weekends, but my itch to wet a line was so overwhelming, that I made the short drive to Clear Creek in Clear Creek Canyon on Sunday, April 30. The temperature in the canyon was in the low to mid sixties, and the flows were in the 40 CFS range. The creek displayed a tinge of color but not enough to impact the fly fishing.

Slow Velocity and Depth

I was lucky to snag a prime parking space in spite of a cadre of rock climbers, so my timing must have been fortuitous. I quickly prepared to fish and assembled my Sage four weight, while I pulled on my fleece hoodie, since the narrow canyon encompasses quite a bit shade.

Way Up There

Good Start

I carefully picked my way down a rocky path to the edge of the creek and rigged my line with a yellow fat Albert, a prince nymph and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the thirty minutes before lunch I connected with and landed two small brown trout that grabbed the hares ear, and I was off and running.

Nice Pool

I could continue recounting my progress and fly changes, but in summary, it was a slow day in the canyon. I switched flies often, and I was never able to identify an offering that generated more than one or two fish. I cycled through the fat Albert, classic Chernobyl ant and peacock hippie stomper on top. For the subsurface offerings I experimented with the prince nymph, hares ear, ultra zug bug, emerald caddis pupa, and go2 sparkle pupa. As I mentioned, each produced one or two fish. Toward the end of my time on the water I tried the hippie stomper trailing a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, but the double dry only yielded the tenth fish that sipped the hippie stomper. I was curious to try the caddis adult, because quite a few naturals fluttered about, when I grabbed the streamside boulders.

Best Fish of the Day

I observed three or four rises during my upstream migration, and I possibly noticed a blue winged olive or two in the air, but switching to a baetis in the fast and narrow canyon felt like a futile move. I did try a bright green go2 sparkle caddis, and I jigged it and fished it on a swing, and I managed to fool one aggressive feeder at the tail of a small pool.

My Future

In roughly three hours of focused fly fishing I landed ten small trout. Nine were browns, and one lone rainbow graced my net. The rainbow was the largest of the ten and probably measured in the eleven inch range. Refusals were prevalent with both the fat Albert and the size 8 classic Chernobyl ant, and this circumstance explained my shift to the hippie stomper.

Soft Grip

Sunday was a tough day. I covered a significant amount of water, and the wading was quite treacherous with numerous large and slippery boulders to negotiate over and around. The fish seemed to be looking to the surface for food, but I was unable to establish a consistent producer. I felt quite fortunate to achieve double digits on this perplexing day.

Fish Landed: 10

South Platte River – 04/24/2023

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/23/2023 Photo Album

Monday, April 24 was almost a carbon copy of my trip last Wednesday with Nate. The flows were essentially the same, and the weather was very similar. The temperature was around 46 degrees, when I began at 11AM, and then it climbed to around 50 degrees by 1PM, before massive dark clouds rolled in. The onset of heavy clouds caused the air temperature to gradually fall into the mid-forties, but the blue winged olives relished the low light and wind, as they emerged continuously from 12:15PM, until I quit at 4:00PM. Unlike April 19, however, I wore my hat with earflaps and carried my fingerless wool gloves; therefore, I was prepared for the adverse conditions in the afternoon.

I arrived at my favorite parking space along the river by 10:45AM, and this enabled me to be on the river fly fishing by 11:00AM. I wore my light down coat and rain shell as a windbreaker, and I assembled my Sage One five weight for a day on the tailwater. When I was prepared, I hiked up the road for .3 mile and then slid down a gravel path to the edge of the river. During the course of my day on the South Platte I encountered only one other angler. I was quite pleased with this circumstance, but I am unable to produce a viable explanation. Perhaps the weather forecast scared off the fly fishermen?

Site of First Trout of the Day


Entry Run Produced

Between 11AM and noon I prospected the pockets and the faster entering riffles of three pools. My offerings were the yellow fat Albert, a size 12 20 incher and three different bottom flies. I began with an ultra zug bug and then switched to an emerald caddis pupa and finished with a classic RS2. The dry/dropper approach yielded one very nice cutbow that grabbed the 20 incher at the head of the long pool, where Nate and I ate our lunch on the previous Wednesday.

Poised to Release

I timed my progression, so that I arrived at the large bend pool by noon, and after I covered the wide entering riffle with the dry/dropper configuration, I retreated to the bank to eat my lunch. As I observed, small rings began to appear in the center section of the pool, and by the time I stuffed my lunch wrappers back in my backpack, the surface feeding advanced to the top of the pool and the faster current seams. I took the necessary time to remove the dry/dropper flies, and I replaced the last section of tippet with material from the new 5X spool that I purchased the previous week. My first choice for fishing the big bend pool was a soft hackle emerger, and I applied floatant and fished it in the surface film.

Initially the soft hackle emerger approach delivered positive results, and I netted two fine rainbow trout, but then the low floating emerger was rudely ignored. I spent quite a bit of time making fruitless casts, and then I converted to a CDC BWO, but that move caused no change, and the trout binged on naturals and paid no attention to my fly. The sun appeared for a brief time, and the hatch dwindled, so I decided to advance up the river to some additional favorite sections.

Dozens of Fish Feeding in This Area

The next spot was extremely smooth, and the rises were very sporadic, I made some casts from the side as well as downstream, but I was unable to initiate interest from the four or five active fish in technical water next to the steep bank below the road. After fifteen minutes I abandoned the smooth pool and moved upstream to the upper section, where a deep slow moving pool bordered a vertical rock wall {see photo above). The trout were going crazy in this spot, and I selected a CDC blue winged olive for this duty. I must have made between fifty and one hundred futile casts in this area, but two downstream drifts connected with spunky wild trout, and I elevated the fish count to five. My puff olives that I tied on Sunday were not setting the world on fire, but I was duping the occasional fish.

Love the Speckles

I carefully watched naturals, as they drifted next to my artificial, and it was obvious that movement was a key distinguishing characteristic. The upright wings of the naturals were fluttering, and the legs of the mayfly were skittering on the surface. I tried to flutter and twitch my dead drifted naturals, and one of the landed trout actually attacked my fly, when I made a quick back mend and jerked the fly, but imitating the natural movement of the mayflies was quite a challenge. Eventually I decided that I flogged this area excessively, and the fish were wise to my presence, so I climbed back on the path and circled around the only other angler that I saw on Monday.

Pleased With This Hard Fighter

I crossed the river and carefully waded to the next wide pool, where the river sluiced around several large exposed boulders at the top. Fish were rising steadily along the deep center run, as well as in the area, where the current fanned out into the slow moving bottom pool. I spent the remainder of my time on the river in this area and ratcheted the fish count up from five to ten. Several of these trout were very strong fighters, including a fourteen inch brown that put up some very stiff resistance with an unending series of dives and twists on the leader. During this period I exchanged the CDC BWO for one of my newly tied puffs that also contained three or four wraps of dun hackle behind and in front of the wing. This wing was not as dense as several others that I tied on Sunday, but it was taller and thicker than most of the CDC BWO’s in my fly box. I also added a hippie stomper as the front fly to improve my ability to track the tiny puffs. The double dry combination with the newly tied puff wing worked fairly well as evidenced by the five trout that mistook it for a natural, but this was by no means easy pickings. I made numerous fruitless casts in order to connect with five trout.

BWO Puffs

Lovely Colors

Throughout the afternoon the dark clouds blocked the sun, and the wind whipped across the canyon, while the temperature dropped to uncomfortable levels. On two occasions small ice crystals descended and bounced off my raincoat, but the precipitation never approached the levels of April 19. Without my earflaps I probably would have called it quits sooner, but my hat and hood and buff provided minimal comfort; and, of course, my thoughts were diverted by the presence of rising trout. By 3:45PM the sky brightened a bit, and this change in weather brought an end to the surface feeding. Sporadic rises continued, but without regular feeding, it was quite difficult to create interest in my fly.

I stripped in my line, hooked my fly to the lower rod guide and hiked back to the car. On Monday I once again endured adverse weather and enjoyed a lengthy session with wild trout rising to baetis mayflies. I managed to land ten trout, and all were in the twelve to fifteen inch size range. Several rainbows and one brown measured at the high end of this range, and most were very strong fighters. The remainder of this week is predicted to be wintry conditions in Denver, so I suspect I will avoid additional trips to the higher elevation locales that offer fly fishing opportunities. When it comes to fly fishing, I am not very patient, but the continuation of winter in Colorado will force me to wait.

Fish Landed: 10

South Platte River – 04/19/2023

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/19/2023 Photo Album

Quite a few themes jump out at me, as I look back on my fly fishing adventure on the South Platte River on April 19, 2023. The weather was a prominent factor, as the temperature peaked at 50 degrees around 1PM, and then dark gray clouds dominated the sky resulting in diving temperatures and high winds. Wednesday was not a comfortable day to be fly fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon. The overcast conditions, however, were a critical element that precipitated waves of hatching baetis mayflies throughout the afternoon. The sky darkened, and then the wind picked up, and then the fish began to rise, and eventually another window of sunshine briefly shutdown the surface feeding frenzy. This cycle repeated itself from 1PM until closing time around 4:00PM. A third major negative component of our day on the river was the loss of five hippie stomper flies, but I will expand on that later.

The most significant story line of the day, however, involved having a companion angler along on April 19. I met Nate at the physical therapy center, where I am undergoing treatment for several physical maladies. Nate moved to Colorado last year in August and decided to embrace the sport of fly fishing after years of spin fishing in Pennsylvania. I learned about his new found obsession in one of my early visits to the local PT office, and as the winter evolved, he told me of his frequent trips to Colorado streams during the cold winter months. Most of these river visits resulted in outdoor exercise but minimal success, and I eagerly anticipated inviting him to join me on an excursion, once the weather warmed up. His off day during the week was Wednesday, so April 19 became our first joint fly fishing adventure.

As I tied my workhorse flies through the winter months, I made a point of tying an extra one for Nate, and I provided these to him with each visit. Nate hit me with an abundant quantity of questions, as he attempted to advance his knowledge in the fly fishing game, and after several very successful trips to Eleven Mile Canyon, I decided that the spectacular stretch of the South Platte River would be a great introduction to amazing scenery, high fish density, and a fabulous mayfly hatch.

Nate and I met near Castle Rock, and we transferred his gear to my car, and I made the remaining two hour drive to Eleven Mile Canyon. We parked at my favorite roadside pullout and proceeded to gear up for a day on the river. I pulled on my light down North Face coat and added my rain shell as a windbreaker, however, I made the mistake of ignoring my fingerless woolen gloves and billed hat with earflaps. During our afternoon on the river I would regret this uncharacteristic neglect. The temperature, when we began our hike up the dirt road, was around 45 degrees, but the wind was already gusting with great frequency.

Entry Point to Long Pool

After a short hike we cut down to the river on a steep path. I planned to begin in some attractive pocket water, but a man and woman stopped there before us, so we adjusted and advanced upstream a short distance to a nice pool with a deep run along the western shoreline. Nate rigged with a yellow fat Albert and prince nymph, and I copied his offerings, but I added a third fly in the form of a sparkle wing RS2. We covered the pool and the entering riffles and run thoroughly over the next twenty minutes, but the fish were inattentive. As this scene transpired, the fly fishing couple below us abandoned the pockets and moved past us toward the terrific long pool that I had my eyes on for lunch and the early stages of an anticipated blue winged olive hatch. I decided to move downstream to the pocket water to introduce Nate to some dry/dropper prospecting in faster structure. We spent another twenty minutes casting our rigs in deep runs and pockets among large exposed boulders, and Nate temporarily hooked a small rainbow on the prince, but our efforts were otherwise fruitless. During this time I attempted to act as a guide and directed Nate’s casts to certain areas and explained the logic of why these locations were likely trout homes. Also a head wind made casting a challenge, and I suggested that Nate pause longer on his backcast to load his rod, and this small adjustment greatly improved his casting distance and accuracy.

After completing our exploration of the pocket water, we progressed up the river to the long pool which had by now been abandoned by the man and woman that began below us. We found a large round rock and downed our lunches at noon, and we observed the pool expectantly. Sure enough toward the end of lunch, we noticed a smattering of rises toward the upper and midsection of the pool. After lunch we both removed our dry/dropper configurations, and we both tied on CDC blue winged olive dry flies to hopefully dupe the residents of the long pool. Our lunch time was probably the nicest weather of the day, as the sun broke through, and the temperature spiked around fifty degrees. From 12:30PM until 4PM, the weather followed a steady downward trajectory from the standpoint of human comfort, but a significant upswing for the bad weather-loving mayflies that prompted gluttonous feeding from the trout.

Early Success

Between 12:30 and 2:00 Nate and I feverishly cast to rising trout in the long pool. I managed to land four respectable trout, and Nate brought a rainbow to his net after quite a few temporary connections. This period of fishing was by no means a walk in the park, as I probably made twenty-five fruitless casts for every successful take. I toggled back and forth between the CDC BWO and a Craven soft hackle emerger fished in the surface film as a dry fly, but each fly was consistently ignored with only an intermittent favorable response. During this time we both struggled to track our tiny CDC BWO flies, so we each added a hippie stomper as the front fly and trailed the small BWO imitation on an eight inch dropper, and this improved our ability to track our flies immeasurably. This ploy remained in effect for the remainder of the day, but unfortunately there was a heavy price to pay in lost flies, as five hippie stompers were left behind in the mouths of trout or in bankside bushes. In my case two stompers parted ways, when I set the hook on feeding fish. I only had myself to blame, as I was being cheap and using 5X tippet that a salesman gave me at the Fly Fishing Show two years ago. I failed to abide by the axiom to replace monofilament every season, and using an off brand that I never tested was probably another big mistake. One of the first things I did on Thursday was to buy a new spool of Scientific Anglers 5X.


Lots of Fish in This Area

Another Take

By 2:00PM a lull in surface feeding prompted us to explore new water, so we hiked up the river for fifty yards until we reached another favorite pool just below the huge bend pool. Two fishermen were perched along the north bank of the bend pool, so we paused in the lower water and observed for a few minutes. As expected, we began to note rises in the lower section and along the eastern shoreline, so we spaced ourselves apart and began lobbing casts to our targeted feeders. I managed a fine brown trout from the gut of the pool just before the main current deflected off some large boulders, and Nate once again tallied some temporary connections. I also set the hook on a sip on a downstream drift, but the fish turned immediately, as I lifted, and both flies parted from my line. Needless to say, I was not pleased with this turn of events.

A Second Pool to Explore

Long and Slender

By 2:30PM we had flogged the lower pool mercilessly, and the fish were in a rest period, so we once again waded up the river to the large bend pool. The two anglers had by now departed, so we had the entire honey hole to ourselves. For the last 1.5 hours we fired cast after cast to the upper and middle sections of the pool. By now the weather had transformed from intermittent periods of nastiness to constant misery. The wind gusted relentlessly and snow squalls pelted the surface and our beings with small white pellets. Our feet and hands quickly morphed into stumps and claws, and tying knots became an exercise in manipulating stiff fingers. Of course, the worse the weather, the happier the fish. Wave after wave of baetis mayflies emerged and tumbled across the surface, and the trout were completely tuned in. Once again my conversion rate was pathetic, as I probably executed twenty-five empty drifts for every take, but the effort was worthwhile, when shimmering wild trout rested in my net.


Big Smile

I moved my fish count from five to ten, and several of the netted fish were gorgeous ink spotted brown trout in the thirteen inch range. Nate, meanwhile exhibited the characteristics of a newly addicted fly fisherman, as he persevered through the inclement weather to land a magnificent brown trout in the fifteen inch range. In addition, he reported quite a few temporary hook ups, so the numbers could have easily doubled or tripled with a higher conversion rate. The look of pride on Nate’s face, as he cradled the appreciated brown trout said it all.

Midsection of the Big Bend Pool

Dave Displays a Catch

At one point we attempted to abandon the bend pool to explore another favorite area upstream, but when we rounded the bend, we discovered another angler stationed in our desired destination. We quickly retreated to the bend pool to resume our pursuit of trout. By 4PM the cadence of rises waned to sporadic rises, and our feet and hands were screaming for relief. We agreed that the prospect of heated seats and warm hands outweighed the  expectation of landing more trout, so we reversed our direction and eventually returned to the car.

Centered in the Net

My success rate on Wednesday was not as high as that which I experienced on my previous two trips to Eleven Mile Canyon, but I was more than pleased with the results. Being able to observe Nate’s introduction to the canyon and a heavy mayfly hatch was very rewarding, and I am certain that he is a confirmed fly fishing addict. The wind and cold were more adverse than the conditions I faced on Friday, April 14, yet we persisted and enjoyed a successful day. For some reason strong wind always seems to impact my ability to fool trout on tiny blue winged olive imitations, and I suspect movement plays a significant role in this letdown. Perhaps Nate can help me solve the challenge of catching trout during windy conditions with blue winged olive imitations.

Fish Landed: 10

Clear Creek – 04/17/2023

Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 041/17/2023 Photo Album

Monday, April 17 was a gorgeous spring day in Denver with the high temperature in the mid-seventies. I could not resist the urge to wet a line and settled on a trip to nearby Clear Creek for my fly fishing fix. I was planning another trip to the South Platte River on Wednesday, so I was averse to undertaking a long drive on Monday. I evaluated the typical Front Range options, and I eventually settled on Clear Creek. I was disappointed to note that South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson River were already rolling at elevated levels, with SBC 111 CFS and the Big T 99. Both of these are manageable, but they are above my ideal range. Jane and I hiked along Clear Creek on Sunday on the Peak to Plains Trail, so I had first hand knowledge that the creek west of Golden was running low (27 CFS) and clear, and I liked the certainty of this option.

Because my destination was relatively close, I opted for a two hour pickleball session on Monday morning, and when I returned home, I gathered my gear and downed my lunch. I arrived at my chosen parking lot by 12:45PM after being forced to stop twice by flagmen, while highway maintenance sessions were in progress. I quickly pulled on my hooded fleece for comfort in the shadows and against the breeze, and then I rigged my trusty Sage four piece, four weight.

Off and Running with Perhaps the Best Fish of the Day

Ultra Zug Bug Produced

I waded upstream for .2 mile, until I reached a place where the creek bed narrowed, and this topography created more deep runs, riffles and pockets. Given the low and clear conditions, I chose to begin my quest for trout with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, beadhead ultra zug bug, and beadhead hares ear nymph. During the first hour I prospected upstream and managed to net three medium sized brown trout by Clear Creek standards in the nine to eleven inch range. Each fly accounted for one fish. The catch rate was fair, but the three landed trout were accompanied by quite a few looks and refusals to the fat Albert, so I decided to downsize  and go with a double dry. More fish seemed to be looking toward the surface for their meals than lower in the water column. I switched to a peacock body hippie stomper and trailed a gray size 16 deer hair caddis. The hippie stomper fooled a small rainbow trout, but it was slow going, so I swapped the caddis for a size 14 yellow sally dry fly and positioned it behind the hippie stomper, and this combination delivered another brown trout that selected the hippie stomper.

Nice Current Seam Here

Trough Near the Left Bank Log Stream Improvements

It was clear that the double dry was generating less interest than the earlier dry/dropper, so I once again changed course and reverted to a dry/dropper. For my last assault on the Clear Creek trout population I deployed a classic size 10 Chernobyl ant and a beadhead prince size 14. This proved to be my best move of the day, and I built the fish counter from five to twelve. Two of the last seven trout crushed the Chernobyl ant, and the remainder nabbed the weighted prince nymph. I avoided adding a second nymph, and this reduced the inevitable rash of tangles associated with a three fly configuration.

Prince Turned the Tide

Chernobyl Ant Gets In on the Action

By four o’clock I approached a convenient exit point, and I took advantage. The last thirty minutes featured dark gray clouds and reduced lighting, and a breeze became an ever present companion. I was pleased at this point to have had the foresight to wear my fleece hoodie. Unfortunately I never witnessed a blue winged olive in response to the overcast conditions.

Afternoon Success

Second Rainbow Trout

Monday’s day on Clear Creek surpassed my expectations, as I landed double digit trout. Once I settled on the Chernobyl ant and prince nymph, the pace of action accelerated a bit, and I grew confident that I could interact with trout, when I encountered the proper structure. I am fairly certain that the larger and weighted prince accounted for the biggest difference from my earlier approaches. It was good to learn that Clear Creek can produce some decent action within close proximity to my home.

Fish Landed: 12

Promising Deep Trough Along the Right Bank

South Platte River – 04/14/2023

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/14/2023 Photo Album

Nothing ventured, nothing gained is an apropos saying for Friday, April 14, 2023. After a very enjoyable outing on 04/10/2023, during which I encountered a decent blue winged olive hatch, I was on the lookout for another opportunity. When I reviewed my calendar for the remainder of the week of April 10, I was disappointed to realize that I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday and tickets to the Cardinals vs. Rockies game on Wednesday followed by Theo Thursday, when my wife and I babysit for our grandson. All that remained was Friday, but a quick review of the weather created reservations that this senior fly fisherman could tolerate the wintry conditions. The high in Lake George was predicted to peak at 49 degrees, and the probability of rain during the afternoon was 50% or greater. Wind in the low teens suggested another adverse factor to a day of fishing in the narrow canyon. On the other hand these conditions were the very same ones that prompt heavy blue winged olive hatches. I decided to make the trip, as I rationalized that I could always quit and return home, if the conditions were too wet and cold.

I departed the house by 8:00AM and arrived at my favorite pullout along the South Platte River by 10:30AM. I was pleasantly surprised to encounter partly sunny skies, and the dashboard temperature registered 44 degrees. With the prospect of rain in the afternoon, I bundled up in my fleece hoodie and North Face light down, and I snugged my billed cap with earflaps tight over my head. I stuffed fingerless wool gloves in my pockets and added my rain shell and lunch to my backpack. I was ready for the worst.

No Luck in This Promising Deep Run

I hiked up the dirt road for .3 mile and dropped down a path to the edge of the river next to some pocket water and immediately rigged with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph, and size 18 crystal stone. A short stint of prospecting the pockets failed to produce any interaction with the trout, so I exchanged the crystal stone for a size 20 sparkle wing RS2. I worked my way up the river to a normally productive pool, and on a cast to the entering run next to the left bank, I saw the fat Albert plunge, and I instantly reacted with a connection to a very fine fifteen inch brown trout. Needless to say I was thrilled with this early action on Friday. The run and riffles failed to generate additional action, so I waded up the river to the long and wide pool with a vertical wall on the west bank. This was the location, where I landed most of my trout on April 10. No surface action appeared, and I found a large slanted rock and downed my small lunch, while I observed the pool and entering run and riffles. At this point the sky was mostly cloudy with occasional patches of blue sky, and the wind gusted on a periodic basis.

Seam on the Far Side of the White Water Delivered

Turned Around

After lunch I resumed my dry/dropper prospecting, but I replaced the hares ear with a weighted 20 incher to gain deeper drifts, and I swapped the sparkle wing RS2 for one with a longer wing. I launched fifteen to twenty casts to the top of the run, and I succeeded in hooking another brown trout in the twelve inch range on the RS2. Another shift in location was in order, so I moved to the small run and pool situated midway between the long pool and the large bend pool by the tunnel. Here I experienced a momentary hook up, before I once again waded upstream to the location just below the large bend pool. I ran some drifts along the current seam and through the troughs on either side with no luck, and then I once again moved to the bend pool. I had it to myself, and I was quite pleased with this circumstance. Since a dry/dropper was my current set up, I began at the entering riffles, and a small brown grabbed the RS2 on a twitch in the area, where the riffles fanned out to become a slower moving pool.

Snow on the Bend Pool

At this point I observed three or four dimples on the surface near the midsection of the pool. I continued with the dry/dropper and swung it through the area of the surface rises, but the ploy did not yield favorable results, so I stripped my flies in and converted to a single dry fly, and that choice was a size 22 CDC blue wing olive. While this changeover was in progress, the sky darkened, and suddenly snow pelted the river and me. Instead of snowflakes the frozen precipitation took the form of small white pellets, and the downpour became so dense, that I was unable to see my fly on the surface through the dense curtain of descending tiny white snowballs. I paused and waited for the heavy snowfall to wane.

Heavy Snow Pellets

After five minutes the snow abated enough for me to track my fly, and I began covering the seams in the wide riffle section at the top of the run. The trout were tuned in, and I ratcheted up the fish count from three to seven, and quite a few of these fish were very respectable browns and rainbows in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. If I were forced to leave due to the arctic conditions at this point, the day would have been a resounding success. But I persisted, and Friday transformed into a sensational early season outing.

Keeping It Wet

Big Tail

Between 1:30PM and 4:30PM I continued fishing the large bend pool with downstream drifts to the gluttonous feeders. The snowfall came in several waves, but the olives emerged consistently from 1:00PM until I quit at 4:30PM. In fact, rising fish remained at the time of my departure; but my feet, hands and core were so chilled, that I feared for my health. My catch rate stalled at seven, so I decided to test my new found technique of using a soft hackle emerger fished in the surface film. I plucked one from my fly box and dabbed floatant to the underside and primped up the wing and tails. It was a stroke of luck, as the fish count soared to twenty, before I quit. After a few landed fish, I was having great difficulty tracking the low floating emerger or cripple, so I placed an olive size 14 hippie stomper on my line and then added an eight inch tippet section to the bend and placed the soft hackle emerger on the point. I could now track the hippie stomper with ease, and I focused my attention on the eight inch radius around the lead fly. In some cases with the downstream cast, the emerger swung around and drifted below the stomper. The technique worked very well and produced thirteen eager eaters that visited my net. There was a period when the soft hackle emerger seemed to fall out of favor, and I switched back to a CDC BWO to catch a few, but eventually I returned to the double dry with the emerger to move the count from fifteen to twenty.

Very Shiny

Spread Out for Photo

Same Fish Angled a Bit

What an afternoon! In addition to experiencing steady dry fly action for three and a half hours, the size of the fish was above average. The ratio of browns to rainbows was around 50/50, and quite a few chunky fish in the thirteen to fifteen inch range graced my net. The skies brightened a bit around 3PM, and the sun even poked through, so that I could shed my wool fingerless gloves for a period, but then more gray arrived, and the wind kicked up thus creating another chill. By the time I quit at 4:30 my body was so stiff that I struggled to step off an exposed rock, and my feet were stumps, while my hands were gnarled claws. In spite of this discomfort I was ecstatic over a twenty fish day landing fish of above average size predominantly on dry flies. In this case I risked a venture during adverse weather and gained one of the best days of the year. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Fish Landed: 20

South Platte River – 04/10/2023

Time: 11:15AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/10/2023 Photo Album

Monday, April 10, 2023 was finally a gorgeous spring day in Colorado, and I took full advantage. I was unhappy with the sparse blue wing olive hatch that I encountered on the Arkansas River, so I made the drive to the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. I knew from past years that the BWO hatches in the canyon tailwater were dependable, and they consistently spurred the wild fish population to feed ravenously.

Great Blue Heron in the Center

I arrived at a pullout along the dirt road that borders the river by 10:45AM, and the dashboard thermometer registered 48 degrees. I pulled on my fleece hoodie and added my raincoat as a windbreaker layer and a means to retain my body warmth, and then I assembled my Sage One five weight. Wind and the potential for larger fish dictated my choice of rod. Once I was prepared, I hiked up the road for .3 mile and then dipped down a steep gravel bank to the edge of the river. Flows were running low at 64 CFS, so I elected to deploy a dry/dropper rig to minimize the impact on the water. I knotted a yellow size 8 fat Albert to my leader as the surface fly, and then I added an translucent apricot egg and a sparkle wing RS2. I began fishing in a narrow section of the canyon that featured some attractive pocket water, and I experienced four split second connections in the first forty-five minutes, before I broke for lunch. Needless to say I was frustrated by the lack of landed fish, but I was pleased that my flies were attracting attention.

A Good Place to Begin

After lunch I advanced up the river to the gorgeous, long pool that entertained me on many a spring day during baetis hatches. I also used lunch to adjust my offerings, and I replaced the egg fly with a size 18 crystal stone as well as swapping the sparkle wing RS2 for a new version with a more pronounced wing. Unfortunately the pool was devoid of activity, so after I prospected the entering runs with no success, I moved up the river once again. I covered some marginal pockets with the dry/dropper, and then I arrived at a nice riffle and run that flowed into a small pool. In the past I had a bit of success here, but never the level of action that I derived from the long pool or the big bend pool that was fifty yards upstream. I flicked some casts to the entering run along the left bank, and then I turned my attention to the deeper riffles directly above me. On the fourth drift the fat Albert dipped, and I set the hook and found myself in a struggle with a very rambunctious rainbow trout. After some torrid runs I turned the tide and netted the river warrior that extended across the mouth of my net thus measuring fifteen inches. The wild chunk displayed the crystal stone in its lip. I reloaded and fired some casts upstream and to the right, and in a short amount of time I connected with another feisty rainbow trout. This one was in the thirteen inch range, but it fought quite heroically, and this fish nailed the sparkle wing RS2.

Best of the Day Was a Beast

Source of Rainbow Slab

Smaller Than One, But Still a Fine Specimen

Run Next to the Large Exposed Boulder Delivered

As these two battles evolved, I began to notice a few blue winged olives, as they emerged and fluttered in the air above the river. The hatch was very sparse, but I decided to circle back to the long pool just in case the mayfly emergence initiated some feeding. The move paid huge dividends, as I observed three or four fish gulping food morsels from the center of the pool. Not wishing to waste a minute of dry fly time, I removed my nymphs, split shot and fat Albert, and I replaced the deep set up with a single CDC blue winged olive. The choice was spot on, and I quickly advanced the fish count from two to eight, as the active feeders slashed at my blue winged olive imitation with confidence. These trout were not as large as the two nymph feeders, but they were mostly in the 11-13 inch range, and I was not complaining. Fast paced dry fly action is always a welcome circumstance in my opinion.

Hook Removal Was a Chore on This Guy

Lots of Rising Activity in This Area

Eventually the density of the hatch waned a bit, and the frequency of the rises slowed, and the fish began to ignore my drifts. My CDC olive got wedged in the hard cartilage of the mouth of one of the browns, and it required significant pressure to pull the fly free thus putting a bend in the hook. I replaced the fly with another, however, it possessed a fluffier wing, and the fish seemed put off by the larger CDC puff. During the fall of 2022 I discovered that a size 20 Craven soft hackle emerger fished in the surface film fooled selective trout, so I gave that ploy another try on Monday. Voila! it worked, and I added three more trout to the fish tally. The eaters of the soft hackle emerger seemed to pluck the fly from the surface just as it began to drag or skate, so movement seemed to be an attractor.

Another Nice Brown Trout

Finally the hatch slowed to a trickle of stragglers, and the rises diminished as well, so I decided to stroll up the river to investigate additional favorite spots. My first stop was the large bend pool just below the tunnel, and as I arrived on the west bank, another angler occupied the east side at the tip of the narrow island just above the pool. I asked his permission to fish the side opposite him, and he graciously approved. I spotted several fish rising in the entry riffle fifteen feet from the head of the run, and I began to place downstream casts above the feeding fish. On the fifth cast a very nice fourteen inch rainbow sipped the soft hackle emerger, and I quickly scooped it in my net. One more trout nabbed the soft hackle emerger in the bend pool, but then I entered a period of frustration, as sporadic risers ignored my soft hackle emerger and a new CDC BWO dry fly. Eventually I surrendered and moved up the river and wished my pool partner good luck, as he persisted with the picky pool residents.

Oh, Another Slab Rainbow

I advanced around the bend and quickly moved to the smooth pool along the steep left bank downstream from the vertical rock wall. I paused to observe for a few minutes and eventually spotted a few small rings toward the opposite bank. I executed some expert downstream drifts over three or four sporadic risers, but they treated my flies with disdain. I reverted to the soft hackle emerger, but neither style of fly could generate interest.

My next stop was the pool next to the vertical rock wall, and quite a few trout were feeding in this section. The area where splashy rises persisted was entirely within a shadow, so tracking my tiny tuft of a fly was nearly impossible. I deployed the technique of guessing where my fly was and then lifting, if I saw a rise in that vicinity, and I managed to prick a pair of fish, but never brought one to my net.

Keeping This One Wet

Once again I adopted a nomadic state, and I wandered farther upstream to another wide and smooth pool with several very attractive deep entering runs. I spent ten minutes at the top of the pool, and I spotted two trout hovering just below the surface in a nice run toward the far bank. I caught a glimpse of two fish, and one rose one time, but my small olive imitation generated one look, and then I concluded that the trout were wise to my presence. I retreated to the shoreline and carefully waded to the tail. A young man was seated along the bank across from the tail section, so I asked his permission to fish, and he granted it saying that it was going to be a while until he wet his line. He was feverishly working on his line and flies, so I took advantage and waded to the extreme tail and along the far bank. I saw two sporadic rises, and I may have generated a refusal from the closest fish, but that was the extent of my action at the tail of the wide and smooth pool.

It was now approaching 4PM, and the hatch essentially ended. The sky was a brilliant blue with no clouds in sight, so I concluded that additional waves of baetis hatches were not going to be forthcoming. I hooked my BWO into the rod guide and found a fairly accessible path up the steep slope to the road and hiked back to the car.

I finally fulfilled my goal of encountering a blue winged olive hatch in 2023, and I was very pleased with the result. My best trout grabbed nymphs just before the hatch, but then I landed eleven additional trout on blue winged olive dry fly imitations. I had a blast, and April 10 qualifies as my best day of fly fishing in the new year in terms of size of fish and quantity of fish. I can only imagine the feeding frenzy should I hit a day with heavy afternoon cloud cover. I will keep my eyes on the weather forecasts over the next week.

Fish Landed: 13

Arkansas River – 04/07/2023

Arkansas River 04/07/2023 Photo Album

Finally an extended streak of nice weather encouraged me to seek out another day of fly fishing. High temperatures in the upper sixties on Friday, April 7, 2023 translated to fifties on the Arkansas River and South Platte River. I chose the Arkansas River because the ArkAngler’s report stated that blue wing olives were active and hatching in the Salida area.

I departed at 7:40AM, and this enabled me to pull in to my favorite pullout along US 50 by 11:15PM, and the temperature registered 46 degrees. Yes, if you do the math, you can determine that my usual 2 hour and 45 minute drive took 3 hours and 25 minutes. I sat in the first position of a long line of traffic for twenty minutes while waiting for a flagman to release us at the top of Kenosha Pass. I was not happy.

A Good Place to Start

I pulled on my North Fork light down coat and my raincoat for a windbreaker, and then I rigged my Sage R8 four weight for a day of casting. Two anglers ambled past me, while I was preparing to fish, and I held my breath that they would not head toward my chosen starting point. They did not, so I crossed the river and hiked downstream, although a guide with an inflatable raft was sitting on top of the nice deep run and shelf pool that usually serves as my starting point. I killed some time rigging my line with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, olive-black Pat’s rubberleg and sparkle wing RS2; and then I prospected a nice trough behind an exposed rock with no success.

Yielded a Trout

By the time I was ready to move on, the raft had disappeared down the river, so I circled around on the adjoining floodplain and positioned myself to fish the normally productive deep run and shelf pool. After ten minutes of unproductive casting, the indicator dipped, and I found myself attached to a feisty thirteen inch brown trout that gobbled the RS2. I snapped some photos and savored my good fortune and resumed my upstream migration.


I experienced a momentary hook up in the short run, where I began, when I lifted the flies to recast in front of a submerged rock. The wide deep run and riffles below the upstream island looked very attractive, but I was unable to generate any interest, so I continued along the main branch of the river on the south side of the island. Near the top I once again connected for a split second with a fish, but it escaped very quickly, and it almost felt like it was foul hooked.

I retreated back to the downstream point of the island, and by now I could see the two fishermen that hiked past me at the car, but they were seventy yards away. The north branch of the river next to the island was very low as a result of flows in the in the 200 CFS range, so I decided to modify my approach to a softer presentation. I removed the split shot and the two nymphs, and then I knotted an olive hippie stomper to my line and dropped the beadhead sparkle wing RS2 below it. I left the tuft of neon chartreuse yarn that served as an indicator in place, as it was near the end of the fly line, and I felt it was far enough away from my flies to not affect the trouts’ interest. The ploy worked to some degree, as I landed a second trout, when it grabbed the trailing RS2, as it drifted along the bubble line near the head of the pool. I also generated two refusals to the hippie stomper, but that was the extent of the action in the usually productive north channel.

Yucca Clump

I advanced up the river above the island and stayed with the dry/dropper for a bit, and in a relatively shallow pool along the right bank, I managed to land a small brown trout in the eight inch range. This little guy also nipped the RS2. I was gaining confidence, but then I approached a long section with faster riffles and a few pockets, and the stomper/RS2 combination did not seem appropriate for exploring the deeper and faster water, so I once again made a switch. I reverted to the indicator (which remained in place), split shot, and a 20 incher nymph and RS2.

20 Incher

Sparkle Wing RS2

With this deeper water rig I decided to cherry pick the most attractive spots that featured depth and a slower current. My strategy seemed sound, but the fish did not agree, and I moved all the way back up the river to my crossing point with nary a fish to add to the count. At this point I crossed the river and climbed the bank and then dropped down to the juicy riffle section just upriver from the high rock wall and pool below my parking space. I began covering the wide riffle over four foot of depth and a very rocky bottom, and after ten minutes the indicator paused, and I set the hook into another fine thirteen inch Arkansas River brown trout. This healthy fish nailed the 20 incher, and I was fairly confident that the promising riffles, pockets and deep runs along the left bank would produce more action.

Nice One

Alas, my confidence was misplaced. During the 2:30 to 3:30 time period two circumstances commenced. The wind, which was bothersome due to intermittent gusts up until the early afternoon, began to blast down the canyon on a more consistent basis, and this made punching casts an arm-challenging event. Also during this time frame some heavy clouds blocked the sun, and I noticed a sparse hatch of blue winged olives, as they tumbled along the surface of the river. They never rested in one spot long enough to catch the interest of the fish, and consequently, I never spotted a single rise. I was, however, convinced that my RS2 would represent a tasty subsurface treat, but that thought was misplaced.

I reeled up my line and hooked the RS2 to the guide and clambered up a very steep bank to the highway at 3:30 and called it a day. Three hours and fifteen minutes of fly fishing yielded four trout. Two were fine thirteen inch chunks. I made the trip seeking the BWO hatch, and I found it, but I never intercepted the surface feeding that I was anticipating, and the nymph action was very slow. On the plus side I mostly had the river to myself, and my Sage R8 performed admirably. With another five days of nice weather ahead of me, I will continue to search for blue wing olive hatches in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 4

Clear Creek – 04/02/2023

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 04/02/2023 Photo Album

I endured the last two weeks of March with no break in the weather that promised a solid day of fly fishing. Nice days in March consisted of high temperatures in the low fifties in Denver. and highs at that level translate to low forties and thirties at best in the foothills and mountains, where I fish for trout. Fortunately the weather forecast projected a brief window of nice weather on April 1 – 3, so I jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately the best day was Sunday, and as a retiree I am loathe to fish on weekends, but I decided to leverage the small window of seventy degree weather before another cold front rushed across the state.

Nice Starting Pool

I reviewed my Front Range options and settled on Clear Creek in the canyon west of Golden. Why? High winds were a factor on South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson. Bear Creek and Boulder Creek were viable options; however, flows were low, and these two destinations do not offer as much space in case of crowded weekend conditions. The North Fork of St. Vrain Creek was also considered, but I experienced minimal success on my first trip of the season, and I was also fearful of elevated fishing pressure there.

Source of Rainbow

I arrived at my chosen starting point at 11:30AM, and I layered with my fleece hoodie. The temperature was a comfortable 64 degrees, but the wind accelerated periodically, and I was in the shade of the narrow canyon from time to time. I rigged my Loomis five weight two piece, and then I devoured my small lunch, since it was approaching noon.

Fat Albert

Another Decent Trout

Big Pocket

After lunch I hiked downstream from my parking space and fished mostly along the south bank of the creek. Thick patches of snow and ice shelves remained, but they receded significantly from previous scouting hikes along Clear Creek, and the stream was in fine shape at 27 CFS. I began my quest for trout with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear nymph, and an ultra zug bug. In the early going I landed five rainbow trout, and I was quite pleased with the success. One of the bows grabbed the ultra zug bug, and one aggressive feeder crushed the fat Albert, while the remainder nabbed the hares ear nymph. Based on past experience I knew Clear Creek as primarily a brown trout fishery, so I was unable to explain the heavy weighting of rainbows on this fine spring outing.

One of the Better Fish

Finally a Brown Trout

Number six was a thick ten inch brown, and I built the fish count to eleven over the remainder of the afternoon, as I steadily worked my way upstream. On my hike to my starting point along the south side of the creek, I passed at least six other fishermen stationed on the north side, but by the time I reached their positions, they had abandoned the effort.

Sweet Spot

My lineup of flies remained the same as the start, and on the day I tallied one on the fat Albert, three on the ultra zug bug, and seven on the hares ear nymph. Most of my action materialized from riffles and the tail of runs that consisted of three to four feet of depth with a slowing current. Nine landed trout were rainbows and two were browns. I have no explanation for this aberrant ratio of species compared to my normal experience.

Lifted Briefly

I am off and running with a double digit day to start April, and hopefully the weather will afford me more opportunities than were available in March. It is blue winged olive time, so trips to the Arkansas River and South Platte River are highly anticipated.

Fish Landed: 11