Time: 11:30AM – 2:30PM
Location: Below Gross Reservoir
Highs in Denver, CO were projected to reach 84 degrees on Friday, October 20, and this translated to the 70’s in most Front Range drainages, so I decided to take advantage and made a late season fishing trip a priority on my schedule. I reviewed the flows on my favorite creek, South Boulder Creek, and I was pleased to determine that the creek was sluicing along below the dam at 91 CFS. South Boulder Creek contains a higher percentage of rainbow trout than many Front Range streams, and I always gravitate to this factor during the brown and brook trout spawning season.
Because of the dam expansion work on Gross Reservoir, I was forced to drive on the Boulder Turnpike, and then I negotiated the twisting road through Flagstaff Park to the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead parking lot. By the time I strung my Loomis two piece five weight and hiked down the trail, it was 11:30AM. I tied a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph to initiate my Friday fishing outing. The hares ear and salvation were effective in previous ventures to South Boulder Creek in the October time frame, and this guided my choice of flies.
Prior to lunch I landed three small brown trout, as two nipped the salvation nymph, and one grabbed the hares ear; however, this encouraging bit of action was accompanied by numerous refusals to the hippie stomper. I paused for lunch in a nice small beach area along the south bank, and after lunch I proceeded upstream. The angle of the sun was such that I had great difficulty following the hippie stomper through the glare, and I missed a couple trout after temporary hook ups, because I was late as a result of not tracking the surface fly.
I swapped the hippie stomper for a larger size 8 tan pool toy hopper, and I retained the hares ear and salvation, and I elevated the fish count slowly to five, but refusals to the pool toy became a prevalent condition. Once again I paused to ponder the reluctance of the trout to consume my dry fly offering, and I decided to test a size 8 yellow fat Albert. I was actually hoping to find a fly that did not distract the stream residents from the nymphs. I also swapped the salvation nymph for a prince nymph; and the fat Albert, hares ear and prince remained on my line, until I quit at 2:30PM. I raised the fish count from five to fourteen, but the largest fish on the day extended only to nine inches with most of the landed trout brown trout in the six to eight inch range. One small seven inch rainbow managed to join the parade of small browns.
Fourteen trout in three and a half hours of fishing is respectable, but the size of the fish was sorely lacking. Could the larger and more mature brown trout have been preoccupied with reproducing? I did not see any spawning activity, but the absence of larger fish certainly suggests that theory as a viable one. I fished a section of the stream that historically delivered high fish counts and larger fish on average. Many prime deep shelf pools and deep runs also failed to produce, and this circumstance was equally puzzling. During this spectacular fall day I felt strong vibes that my 2023 season was coming to an end. I will keep a close eye on the weather in the coming weeks.
Fish Landed: 14