Monthly Archives: July 2024

Willow Creek – 07/17/2024

Time: 10:30AM – 3:15PM

Location: National Forest land

Willow Creek 07/17/2024 Photo Album

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. Excessive exposure could lead to crowding and lower fish densities.

A friend of mine from college asked me to mentor his grandson, who displayed a new interest in fly fishing. My friend’s sixteen year old grandson, Ben, lives in Golden, CO, and he recently took up fly fishing. I eagerly agreed to the proposal, as I am a proponent of introducing young folks to my favorite pastime. Increasing the participation in fly fishing can only help promote conservation efforts and the health of our fish stocks and waterways. With the serious threat of climate change more advocates to protect the environment is a necessity.

I communicated with Ben’s mother, Alison, and we arranged to meet on Wednesday morning at 8:30AM. Ben’s house was along the route to the stream that I chose, I provided a list of essentials for a day of fly fishing to Alison, and when I arrived at their house Ben was prepared and eager.

We made the drive to a pullout near the stream, and Ben prepared to fish, while I did the same. A coworker with Ben’s father gave him two fly rods, and Ben assembled his 8.5 foot two piece six weight. I did not plan to fish, but I built my Orvis Access four weight just in case. The only gear that I provided was a small net with a retractor and clip.

Prime Pool

Once we were ready, we hiked down the road a short distance, and then we cut to the creek. I asked Ben to make some casts, and he displayed some of the typical beginner faults such as moving the rod tip too far between the forward and back casts. I offered some tips for improvement, and by the end of the day, Ben was tossing fifty foot casts to target areas. Once I was convinced that Ben was able to target casts that would generate positive results, we launched our day.

My Client on Wednesday

Between 10:30AM and 3:15PM we covered a significant amount of stream real estate, and Ben landed nineteen wild trout. In his words, he quintupled his lifetime number of fish landed! He was a quick study and greatly improved his ability to cast, read the water, and strip line to eliminate slack before setting the hook. He also improved his ability to handle fish, remove the fly and keep his catches wet.

Brook Trout Netted

Ben was the perfect guiding client. He said thank you to me for everything I did. He was attentive and accepting of instruction and polite to the extreme. He even pretended to be interested in my fish stories.Pretty Fish

I managed to land a couple brook trout along the way, but I mostly assisted and avoided fly fishing for one day. Over the course of the day Ben landed eighteen brook trout and one brown trout. He was rather excited to net the brown trout, and we both agreed that he hooked two additional browns that he failed to land. The brook trout were splendid fish, and they splashed all the colors of the rainbow. Ben could barely contain his admiration for the small jewels that rested in his net. Most of the trout crushed the hippie stomper, although a beadhead pheasant tail yielded a few in the early afternoon, and in the late going he nabbed a few on a yellow stimulator and olive-brown size 16 deer hair caddis. Ben got a taste of dry fly fishing, dry/dropper and double dry approaches.

Quick Release

Promising Spot Ahead

I was very proud of Ben’s improvement and accomplishment. Hopefully he gets additional opportunities in the near future to reinforce his newly acquired skills. I would be open to additional fishing outings, although in the future I would not be the guide, but instead I would be a fishing companion.

Fish Landed: 2

North Fork of Ten Mile Creek – 07/16/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: West of Frisco, CO

North Fork of Ten Mile Creek 07/16/2024 Photo Album

If you read my last report, you know that I dipped into my bag of good fortune, when I recovered my lost wading staff on Bear Creek. Apparently I used up my good luck. Let me explain.

For Tuesday I planned a trip to a new stream that I never fished previously. I prepared my lunch on Monday and allowed my gear to remain in the car from Monday’s trip. I woke up earlier than normal, and these actions paid off, when I departed from the garage at 7:00AM. My destination required a two hour drive and a forty-five minute hike, so an early start was essential, and I was excited. I drove for one block, when I noticed a red warning light on the dashboard that informed me that the tire pressure in the left rear tire was low. In fact, it was 18 PSI. I immediately returned to the garage, and I dug out the small air compressor that I carry, and I inflated the tire back to 35 PSI. Needless to say I was very frustrated. Not being able to fulfill my planned day on a new creek was a bitter pill to swallow. I went online and learned that the local Les Schwab tire center did not open until 8:00AM.

As I was inflating the tire, I noticed that fluid was dripping from beneath the engine, and this raised additional concerns. I waited until 7:45AM, and I made the short drive to Les Schwab, and the nice lady at the counter put me on the schedule for a morning tire repair. I asked if the mechanic could look at the dripping fluids and give me an opinion on the source. I asked how long I needed to wait, and she replied an hour, so I made a cup of coffee and settled in a chair in the waiting area to ponder the daily Connections puzzle. After a short wait, Josh called my name, and he informed me that the dripping resulted from condensation from the air conditioning unit. This was a huge relief.

In less that an hour a young lady appeared, and she announced that my car was ready. The tire specialist found a screw in the impacted tire and repaired it for no charge, and I was free to go. I returned home and pondered my next move. One option was pickleball, but I still clung to the fly fishing option, so I decided to explore a different stream that required a shorter drive. I restored my lunch, pretzels and tote bag to the car, and I was on my way to the North Fork of Ten Mile Creek. I hiked this trail several times, but I never fished it, but I put it on my list of small streams to sample.

When I arrived at the trailhead parking lot, it was full, so I turned left and went under the highway to a larger lot on the east side of Interstate 70. This lot was also full, but I found a wide shoulder along the short entrance way, and I designated it as my parking spot. There were no signs, and another car was parked in a similar fashion right behind me.

I cycled through my normal preparation, and after checking the relatively normal flows of the North Fork next to the parking lot, I chose my light Orvis Access four weight. I crossed the exit ramp and the entry ramp and hiked up the North Fork trail, until I reached a section that appeared to be prime for fly fishing. The gradient was reduced, and there was adequate space for backcasts.

Along the way I passed a man in a national forest uniform, and he was not very forthcoming with information, When I asked if the small stream contained fish, his answer was, “one or two”. Next I passed a woman, and she saw my fly rod, and she volunteered that there were an abundant quantity of brook trout a short distance ahead. I was encouraged by this information.

Number One

Smooth

Within thirty minutes I reached the area that I targeted, and I tied a peacock hippie stomper to my line and began to lob long casts to the relatively smooth water. I began fishing at 11:30AM, and by the time I paused for lunch, the fish count rested on five. All were brook trout, and all consumed the solo hippie stomper.

Brilliant

Distracted from Fly Fishing by Wildflowers

After lunch I continued my upstream migration, and the success of the first thirty minutes repeated itself, until I foolishly roll cast the hippie stomper into a dead tree limb higher than my reach. This was my second hippie stomper, as the hackle collar unwound on the first peacock version after being mauled by thirteen brook trout. The second one and the one lost to the tree limb contained a purple body.

Very Dark Coloration

Gorgeous Run

The fish count was twenty-nine, and I was unwilling to risk another hippie stomper, so I experimented with a lime green trude and a Jake’s gulp beetle. The trude was ineffective, and the beetle enabled me to increment the fish count to thirty-one.

One More Gem

Tuesday was a fun day. For the most part the creek allowed for adequate backcasting space. I was able to launch long casts, and the brook trout were quite hungry. In addition to the thirty-one trout that I counted, I probably landed another fifteen small ones beneath my six inch cut off. All the trout were in the six to nine inch range with possibly a few ten inch monsters. I moved at a steady pace, placed upstream casts in the likely spots and enjoyed the colorful fighters on the end of my line. I salvaged an enjoyable day of fishing after the low tire fiasco. My original plan remains a near term objective, but I discovered another high country option for hot summer days.

Fish Landed: 31

Bear Creek – 07/15/2024

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between Morrison and Evergreen

Bear Creek 07/15/2024 Photo Album

I had a commitment which required me to leave our house in Denver by 5:00PM, and additionally I needed time for a shower, a change of clothes and time to pick up dinner. In order to complete this timeline, I needed to quit fishing no later than 3:00PM. This constraint, in turn, dictated that my fly fishing outing on Monday needed to be nearby. With high temperatures projected to reach 95 degrees, the Front Range offered few good alternatives.

My friend, Nate, provided some positive reports on Bear Creek, so that became my choice. I arrived at a small pullout along the winding road beyond Morrison at 10:15AM, and this enabled me to approach the creek by 10:30. The temperature, when I began, was 86 degrees, but I decided to bypass wet wading, because I was unsure of the terrain and vegetation. I was a bit warm during my time on the creek, but I was not unreasonably uncomfortable.

Clear and Moderate Flows

For my rod I selected my Loomis two piece five weight, as I expected to toss dries and dry/dropper, and I like the slower action for that chore. The Loomis is also 8.5 feet long, and I viewed that as advantageous in the narrow confines of the canyon with an abundant quantity of  overhanging branches.

To begin my search for trout I chose a peacock hippie stomper trailing a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the early going I covered a significant amount of stream, and I landed two small brown trout. One took the hares ear and the other smacked the stomper. I also noticed a couple swirling refusals to the hippie stomper. Most of the action was on the surface, so I swapped the hares ear for a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis.

Unfortunately for me, these flies were not attractive to the fish, if in fact there were fish in the stream. I say this because I observed very little evidence of trout in the form of looks, sightings, or refusals. After an hour of fishing, I encountered a waterfall, so I climbed the north bank and circled above the falls. I gazed upstream, and I was faced with a narrow canyon with rock walls on both sides. Should I attempt this section? I decided to give it a try and figured it offered the advantage of light pressure, as most anglers would not undertake the difficult wade.

Narrow Canyon

I carefully edged along the rock wall using small ledges for foot placement, and I survived the riskiest portion of the upstream migration. Once I was on solid ground, I evaluated the creek structure, and I concluded that the narrow streambed created deep runs and plunge pools, and my small dry fly offerings were probably not the proper choice. I sat on a rock and re-rigged with a size 8 pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead salvation nymph.

I worked my way upstream methodically and generated a pair of refusals to the hopper, before I made an errant back cast and snagged a tree limb. The branch that possessed my flies was higher than I could reach, so I unhooked my wading staff from my belt to allow extra extension. I used the staff to strafe the branch a couple times, but it was not moving or hooking the fly, so I dropped it, and resorted to tugging on the upper nymph, and this in turn snapped off the salvation nymph. But wait a minute, did I say I dropped the wading staff? Remember it was no longer attached to my wading belt. Upon realizing my mental lapse, I saw the wading staff bobbing down a white water cascade thirty yards downstream. I swore at my stupidity and began the mental task of making the best of a lost wading staff. I was already resolved to quit fishing in order to construct a new staff during the afternoon, since I planned to fish again on Tuesday.

Recovered Wading Staff

I was not about to undertake additional challenging wading in the narrow canyon without a staff, so I ascended a steep bank and walked back along the road to the car. Could the staff have gotten lodged somewhere between my exit point and the car? it was a long shot, but I now had the rest of the afternoon available, so I decided to complete a search. I stuffed my rod in the car and scampered down the dirt path and followed the fisherman path along the creek. Along the way I found a branch of the correct length and commissioned it to walking stick duty.

I constantly inspected the banks and scanned for my wading staff, particularly where I noticed a collection of natural branches. Eventually I arrived at the waterfalls, and just below the falls there was a huge jumble of sticks and branches collected from the high flows of run off. I did not see my staff among them, but I was unable to view the collection above some large rocks near the opposite bank. I marched up along the shoreline for a short distance, and I spotted the end of a long cylindrical object. Could it be? Yes, it was my wading stick. I used my makeshift staff to cross the creek and carefully negotiated the stick jumble, until I could retrieve my three dollar broom handle. I was elated!

I returned to the car, and now that I had my safety net to lean on, I decided to explore a different section of Bear Creek. I continued west through the canyon, and I was blown away by the number of pullouts occupied by fishermen. I had no idea that tiny Bear Creek receives such an enormous amount of pressure. I can always tell a heavily fished area by the extent to which the paths are worm, and heavy usage was definitely evident, where I fished.

Same Stream, Different Look

Best Fish of the Day

After a short drive I found a parking space, and I grabbed my rod and gear and ambled directly to the creek. I sat in some tall grass next to Bear Creek and downed my lunch, and then, since I lost the salvation nymph on my dry/dropper, I converted back to a hippie stomper and deer hair caddis. I progressed upstream for the next two hours and managed to land four additional trout to up the fish count to six. One of the trout was a rainbow, and the other three were browns. Midway through this period, the stomper dominated with refusals, so I exchanged it for a size 16 light gray comparadun, and this combination did the heavy lifting. Of the four landed after lunch, one smacked the comparadun and the other three gobbled the caddis.

Next to Grassy Clump Was Brown Trout Home

Camouflage

On this hot day in July, the recovery of my wading staff was easily the highlight. My largest trout was probably the eight inch rainbow, so size was not a positive. But given Nate’s recent skunking, I felt somewhat relieved to catch a few fish under very difficult hot and sunny conditions. It is only the middle of July, and I am already considering limiting my fishing to higher elevation streams and tailwaters. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 6

Competing Angler

Willow Creek – 07/12/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: National Forest

Willow Creek 07/12/2024 Photo Album

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. Excessive exposure could lead to crowding and lower fish densities.

Start of Lower Gradient Section

A high of 102 degrees was predicted for Denver on Friday, July 12, 2024, so I sought a fly fishing destination at high elevation. My friend, Nate, told me about one such place, so I decided to make the trip. I love exploring new fly fishing destinations, and visiting a place that provided cooler temperatures was icing on the cake.

Greedy Brook Trout Were Prevalent

I arrived at my chosen parking space by 11:00AM, as the Friday traffic was already heavy at the usual choke points. The dashboard temperature read 72 degrees and the sky was bright blue and absent cloud cover, and the weather would remain the same during my afternoon on the creek. I chose my Sage R8 four weight, and once I was prepared, I hiked down the road for .2 mile and then cut perpendicular to the stream.

Undercut Bank Produced a Gorgeous Brown TroutUndercut Bank Brown Trout

For a start I knotted a size 14 olive body stimulator to my line. I was hoping that the large bushy attractor would pound up some fish, but after twenty minutes of inactivity, I had nothing to show for my efforts. The section I chose to launch my day in was relatively narrow with a high gradient. The creek seemed higher than average, but it was crystal clear, so in retrospect, my lack of action was probably attributable to water type more than fly selection.

Very Pretty and Very Productive Pool

Loved These Occasional Brown Trout

By noon, when I broke for lunch, I swapped out the stimulator for a size 10 Chernobyl ant trailing a weighted 20 incher, and the Chernobyl ant prompted a take for my first trout, a small brook trout, but it also was accompanied by some refusals. At least I discovered the presence of fish in my newly explored fishery.

Another Respectable Small Stream Brown Trout

Shelf Pool Produced

I downed my lunch quickly and resumed my progression, but now the terrain shifted to a more moderate slope, and this in turn, evolved into an increased number of spots more conducive to trout holding lies. The Chernobyl was not clicking, and the 20 incher was too heavy, thus causing snags and a lack of movement. I made yet another change, and in this instance I replaced the Chernobyl with the ever-present peacock hippie stomper and a beadhead hares ear dropper.

Resting Brook Trout

This adjustment proved to be the ticket, and I increased the fish count from one to thirty-five between 12:30PM and 4:00PM, when I quit for the day. In short, I had a blast. Most of the trout snatched the trailing hares ear on the drift, but a fair number also rose to inhale the reliable stomper, as it bobbed along on the current seams. Slower moving shelf pools, current seams, tail outs at the end of a pool, and slow moving sloughs along undercut banks were the locations, where my flies brought success.

Aggressive Brown Trout

I reveled in the fast paced action, as I moved quickly from promising spot to promising spot. I probably covered .4 mile of stream real estate in the course of my day, and the only downside to the experience was the wind, which whipped incessantly down the valley. The rushing air, in turn, caused numerous difficult tangles, and why is it that the strongest blasts coincide with attempting to perform a delicate unraveling operation?

Brook Trout Haven

What sort of fish were attacking my flies? Most of the landed fish were colorful brook trout in the six to nine inch range, although I estimate that eight were very nice browns in the twelve to thirteen inch size slot with one fourteen inch outlier to my credit. I love catching trout that surpass my expectations in a small stream environment, and Friday’s outing certainly qualified in that regard.

Other than the wind, it was a nearly perfect fly fishing outing. Temperatures were in the seventies, the creek contained an abundance of hungry fish, and a sprinkling of above average size brown trout kept me focused. Given the wind, it was fortunate that minimal streamside vegetation existed to snag my flies. I look forward to another visit to this newly discovered fly fishing playground.

Fish Landed: 35

Eagle River – 07/09/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Avon and Eagle, Colorado

Eagle River 07/09/2024 Photo Album

My camping experience launched with a tough start, when I was unable to screw the regulator from the camp stove into the neck of the propane canisters. I tried four different containers with the same result, and my wrist and fingers were on the brink of injury as a result of all the pushing and twisting. I was forced to drive back to Minturn for a BBQ dinner at the Kirby Cosmos eatery, so glamping was gradually replacing camping. Surely my one night camping outing could not get any worse.

I returned to my campsite at Hornsilver after dinner, and recorded my fishing notes and read for a bit, before I crashed in my REI two-person tent. I was situated in a great position to get an early start on the Eagle River once again on Tuesday. My day on Monday was decent, so I decided to return to the same general area, but to begin my fishing venture farther upriver, thus, allowing me to overlap with the most productive section yet provide for farther advancement.

Hornsilver Camping Setup

I woke up at 6:30AM, but I remained in the tent in my comfortable sleeping bag until 7:00AM. When I stepped outside, I was immediately shocked by the cold temperature. I quickly wrapped myself in my heavy down parka, which I very nearly left behind. Of course, I was without a functioning camp stove, and this eliminated my ability to heat water for my usual mug of black tea. It also precluded hot oatmeal for breakfast, or the ability to wash my face with warm water.

Frost on the Tablecloth

I decided to begin preparing my sandwich for lunch, and at this point I discovered a thin film of frost on the the tablecloth as well as a coating on the rain fly of the tent. Apparently the temperature at Hornsilver dipped to freezing at the high elevation. I decided to wait a bit, until the air temperature elevated, but after fifteen minutes, I concluded I was wasting time and proceeded with the steps of sandwich construction. I placed two slices of bread on a paper towel and applied my favorite spread. At this point my hands began to ache, and I stuffed them into my parka pockets and blew on them for warmth. I was forced to go through this regimen with each step of building my sandwich, and it took a ridiculous amount of time to make one lunch item. Did I mention that, in the midst of the sandwich preparation, the mustard exploded from the squeeze bottle due to the high elevation and change in pressure?

Next I proceeded with the chore of breaking camp, and of course the sun remained sequestered behind the ridge to the east, and the air temperature dwelled in the thirties. Eventually I took down the wet tent and rainfly and rolled them up in the back of the car to dry out later. For breakfast I downed a yogurt cup and granola bar, but I almost broke my teeth on the frozen brick of a fruit and nut snack. Finally I was on my way, but was I? I had to stop two times on my way down Battle Mountain Pass for single lane road construction crews. I was aching for my standard cup of black tea, so I stopped at the Sunrise Cafe in Minturn only to discover that the only black tea on the menu was Earl Gray. I dislike Earl Gray, so I exited with the thought of stopping in Avon or Edwards.

When I reached the entrance to interstate 70 west, I was alerted to the fact that the on ramp was closed, and I had to detour east to the West Vail exit where I completed a U-turn to continue on my way to my chosen fly fishing destination. I looked at my watch and realized that I was on track to start fishing barely a half hour earlier than on Monday, when I packed the car and traveled all the way from Denver. So much for camping near the river. I abandoned all thoughts of tea and proceeded directly to the river.

Flows Remained High on Tuesday

OK, back to fly fishing. The temperature was in the low seventies, as I prepared to fish, and the sun was beating down relentlessly with no clouds in the sky. I sensed that Tuesday would be a difficult day. Flows were in the 700 CFS range, so the river was still high and cold to offset the warming impact of the sun’s rays, and that provided an element of hope. I hiked down to the river following Monday’s path, but I stopped short of my starting point of the previous day. To began my foray into edge fishing I tied an amber ice dub body chubby Chernobyl to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear to imitate yellow sally nymphs and an olive-black Pat’s rubber legs for weight and depth. As I suspected, I began casting at 11:00AM merely thirty minutes sooner than on Monday after packing the car for camping and fishing and driving from Denver. In the hour before lunch I managed two temporary connections with decent fish, but that was the extent of my success in spite of prospecting some very attractive pockets and riffles of moderate depth.

Early Catch

 

I ate my lunch by the river bank and observed, and yellow sallies dominated the sky, although the density of the hatch was far more sparse than that which I viewed on Monday. After lunch I removed the rubber legs and replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa and moved the hares ear to the end position. A few caddis flitted about among the willows, so I played the hunch that a caddis pupa might be the ticket. It worked temporarily, when I landed a nice, chunky thirteen inch rainbow, and that was bracketed by a pair of eleven inch fish that snatched the hares ear. One was a rainbow and one was a brown trout.

Talon Scarred Rainbow Trout

I moved along at a fairly rapid pace and hit the promising spots, but other than another small rainbow, my efforts were thwarted. By 2:00PM I began to suspect that the lower river was not going to produce, but I made a last ditch effort to salvage some action, and I swapped the caddis pupa for an iron sally. In a nice angled shelf pool the chubby dipped, and I found myself attached to an angry sixteen inch rainbow. It thrashed and splashed, but eventually I slid my net beneath it, and I thought it was the same fish I landed on Monday from the same location. Once I reviewed the photos, I realized it was a different rainbow with a talon mark in a different spot.

I moved on and skipped around a wide and marginal section and arrived at the nice moderate riffle area, where I ended my day on Monday. I tossed an abundant quantity of casts and covered all the lanes thoroughly, but I was not rewarded for my efficiency. Once again I progressed up the river, and in a deep pocket next to a fallen log I hooked and landed an eleven inch brown trout, and that ended my day on that section of the Eagle River.

I returned to the car, and as I did so, some large, dark clouds were shifting into position to the west. I decided to test another section of the river farther upstream closer to the headwaters with a narrower riverbed, more pockets for aeration, and more trees to provide shade. By the time I drove the extra miles and parked and hiked to my starting spot, it was 2:45PM, and the clouds were nearly above me, so I pulled on my rain jacket. I immediately approached a series of pockets that I favor, and I made a few casts with the dry/dropper that remained on my line, but success remained elusive.

New Location, Nice Brown Trout

Pockets Galore

I decided to cast my fortunes to a dry fly approach, so I removed all the dry/dropper flies and switched to a peacock body hippie stomper trailing a size 16 light gray caddis on a twelve inch dropper. Bingo! Success was instant. Over the next hour I progressed through the fifty yard section of pocket water and boosted the fish count from six to eighteen. Six of the twelve trout were small browns in the eight to ten inch range, but the other half dozen included a much appreciated rainbow of fifteen inches and a pair of brown trout in the thirteen inch range. The others were respectable browns and rainbows in the twelve inch bracket.

Surprise Catch

Between Middle of Three Exposed Rocks and Rock on Far Right

In one very attractive pocket I spotted two decent trout; one at the lip and the other toward the middle. I attempted to interest the one at the lip, but it was sullen and did not move, but the one higher up was definitely in feeding mode, and I managed a few looks but no takes. I began swapping out the trailing fly, and I moved through a cinnamon comparadun and an olive-brown body size 16 caddis, but neither flies changed the fish’s unwillingness to feed on my offerings.

Required a Fly Change

I moved on to the next deep pocket which was similar in dimensions and depth, and once again I spotted a large fish stationed at the lip of the pool. It also feigned indifference, so I exchanged the olive-brown caddis for a size 16 light gray comparadun. On the fifth drift, the targeted trout snatched the comparadun, and the fight commenced. I was fortunate enough to land the prize fifteen inch slab for what proved to be the prize of the day.

Deep Slot

Bravo

Large Deep Pocket

Tuesday was almost an exact replay of my day a year ago with my friend, Nate. We began early in the same spot, encountered challenging fishing and then defaulted to the upper river, where we met with some fast action late in the afternoon. I’m done with the lower Eagle for the summer, but a return to the upper section is certainly a consideration over the remainder of July.

Fish Landed: 18

 

Eagle River – 07/08/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: West of Wolcott

Eagle River 07/08/2024 Photo Album

I was mostly over my cold, and with the Fourth of July week in the rear view mirror, I decided to do my first fly fishing/camping venture of the year. I departed Denver by 8:30AM, and this enabled me to reach my chosen destination on the Eagle River by 10:45AM.

The dashboard registered 72 degrees and the flows were in the 700 -800 CFS range. I love edge fishing the Eagle River, and the conditions were nearly perfect for that approach. For the most part I confined my casts to the twenty feet of river that bordered the left bank. The rest of the river except for the unreachable opposite bank was too fast to hold fish, so they were stacked up in the twenty foot ribbon of water. Pockets, eddies and moderate riffles with slow velocity and decent depth were my target for 4.5 hours on the river.

Starting Point

700 – 800 CFS

I began with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, an iron sally and a salvation nymph; and I covered quite a bit of water, before a chunky thirteen inch rainbow grabbed the iron sally. Most of the spots in the morning stretch were rather marginal, so I stuck with my lineup of flies, until I resumed after lunch.

Early Catch

Submerged Willows

Much Appreciated Brown Trout

During lunch along the river, I witnessed a fairly dense emergence of yellow sallies, so I swapped the salvation (PMD nymph) for a beadhead hares ear (yellow sally nymph). The move paid dividends, as the fish count mounted from one to twelve by 3:30PM. The yellow sallies definitely dominated the scene, but I also observed some size 18 caddis and a few pale morning duns. Most of the trout during this run grabbed the hares ear with perhaps two favoring the iron sally. This was by no means torrid fishing action, as the level of success required constant movement and an abundance of casting. Some attractive spots failed to produce, while other marginal locations provided a surprise.

Fighting Bow

Deep Trough

Pink Stripe

On the day I tallied thirteen landed trout, and two were browns with the remainder rainbows. Five of the final count were quite small, but the remaining eight were hard-fighting, chunky trout. Among the larger fish was a fifteen inch brown trout and three prize rainbows in the fifteen to sixteen inch range.

Talon Wound Obvious

Home of Talon Wound Rainbow

This brings me to number thirteen. I was near quitting time, and I was still fishing the dry/dropper, when I arrived at the spot, where the river widens, and there is a nice wide moderate depth riffle. I made some exploratory casts with the dry/dropper, but I experienced no luck, but I spotted a decent sized nose poking up two times to eat something. I removed the dry/dropper and shifted to a solo yellow sally dry fly. The fish refused the yellow sally, so I swapped it for a size 16 light gray comparadun, and a gorgeous sixteen inch rainbow sipped it confidently. What a way to end my day, and I love moments like that.

Home of Comparadun Sipper

Fish of the Day

Monday was a fun day. in addition to the thirteen landed trout, I tangled with three additional hot fish that managed to shed the fly. I played them long enough to realize that they were worthy of my deep regret.

I found a campsite at Hornsilver Campground for Monday night, but I was unable to connect the propane canister to the camp stove regulator, so I drove back to Kirby Cosmos in Minturn for a BBQ dinner. I suppose I can now claim that I was glamping and not camping.  A revisit to the Eagle River on Tuesday before returning to Denver is in the plans.

Fish Landed: 13

Curtain Ponds – 07/02/2024

Time: 12:30PM – 3:30PM

Location: Near Copper Mountain

Curtain Ponds 07/02/2024 Photo Album

Tuesday, July 2, 2024 was my first of two scheduled days of float fishing during 2024 with a guide from Cutthroat Anglers. I drove to Eagle, CO on Monday evening and stayed with my friend Dave G. and his wife, Beth. Dave G. sets up multiple guided float trips each summer, and I join for a few of them. On Monday evening Dave G. communicated with our guide, Reed, and we agreed to meet at the Eagle rest stop at 9:00AM on Tuesday.

All went as planned. We arrived at the parking lot at the rest stop on time, and Reed was already parked with his SUV and raft. Unfortunately a significant amount of rain fell over the previous 48 hours, and the volume of the Eagle River surged by 50% to over 2000 CFS, and the clarity was not very good. Dave G., Reed and I discussed the options, and after Reed checked some turbidity and stream flow data, we decided to shift our focus to the Colorado River. Dave G. and I parked our cars at Wolcott and jumped into Reed’s SUV, and we made the drive to Twin Bridges boat access below State Bridge. Upon our arrival, we inspected the river and the flows were more amenable to fishing; however, the clarity was worse than the Eagle River. We decided to reschedule later in the season during more favorable conditions, and I departed for Denver.

Starting Pond

For some reason I had the foresight to pack my wade fishing gear, even though I do not typically need it on a summer float trip, and since I was passing by Copper Mountain, I decided to spend a few hours on the Curtain Ponds. Why not? it was a beautiful day, I already allotted a day for fishing, and it was a stone’s throw off the highway.

Near the Start

Another Orange Belly

I did not, however, pack a lunch, since that was to be provided on the float trip by Reed, so I quickly devoured a granola bar and prepared to fish. The dashboard temperature reading was 58 degrees, and there was a light wind, so I pulled on my fleece hoodie and covered that with my raincoat for a windbreaker. I was comfortable for the remainder of the afternoon, as the temperature remained in the sixties as a result of long periods of dense cloud cover. I assembled my Sage R8 four weight, and I was on my way to one of the many ponds that border interstate 70.

Placid at the Moment

Orange Fins

As was the case on my previous visit, I began my quest for trout with a peacock body size 14 hippie stomper and a size 16 iight gray deer hair caddis on a twelve inch dropper. These flies dominated my line for most of my time on the water except for the final hour, when I swapped the caddis for a size 16 light gray comparadun, after a callibaetis mayfly landed on my hand.

One of the Better Fish of the Day

Darker Body on This Prize

Over the next three hours on the pond I had a blast. I landed 32 brook trout; however, the largest probably stretched the tape to ten inches. Yes, it was a day of landing eye-catching colorful small trout, but the action was rapid. 60% of the takes were on the caddis adult, 10% smacked the comparadun, and the remainder gulped the hippie stomper. I deployed various techniques, but the most successful was allowing the flies to rest for ten seconds, and then popping the flies with a quick strip, resting a second time and then executing a second pop followed my some short rapid strips. Some fish crushed the flies as soon as they hit the water, and a few sipped one of the flies after they remained motionless for ten to twenty seconds. Casts parallel to the shoreline seemed to be the ticket to more and slightly larger fish.

A Different Pond

For the last thirty minutes I shifted to a second pond to add some variety to my day and test different water. This move was actually somewhat successful, as I landed my last four brook trout from the different pond, before a brookie took me into some sort of underwater snag, and I was forced to break off the hippie stomper and comparadun. I was averse to setting up a new double dry system, so I used this as an excuse to end my day.

I Love the Overhead View

My last minute decision to fly fish for three hours paid dividends, and I amused myself by catching small brook trout at a rapid clip. Hopefully the rain subsides, the run off diminishes and I can log a few days edge fishing freestones over the early part of July. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 32