Author Archives: wellerfish

Arkansas River – 04/23/2024

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Lower Big Horn Sheep Canyon

Arkansas River 04/23/2024 Photo Album

Because of doctor and physical therapy appointments, my opportunity to fly fish during the upcoming week was limited to Tuesday, April 23, 2024. I studied the weather and fly shop reports, and largely due to favorable temperatures I settled on the Arkansas River in lower Big Horn Sheep Canyon. Royal Gorge Anglers and ArkAnglers both reported caddis sightings, with the brachycentrus hatch advancing as far as Texas Creek. This information along with overcast skies in the afternoon providing ideal conditions for blue wing olives convinced me to make the drive to the Arkansas River.

For this report I will cut to the conclusion quickly. Two factors impacted my day, that I failed to bake into my planning. The water clarity was somewhat colored, although visibility was adequate for trout to see food; however, the turbidity probably indicated low level snow melt, and this circumstance in turn probably caused lower than normal water temperatures. Caddis like warmer temperatures for their emergence. The second factor was the fly fisherman’s four letter word; wind. It was strong and constant.

I fished from 10:30AM until 3:00PM, and I landed four trout. One was a small brown, and the others were rainbow trout including two quite nice fish in the thirteen to fourteen inch size range. All my success occurred between 10:30AM and 1:30PM, as I deployed an indicator nymphing rig with a strike indicator, split shot, emerald body caddis larva and bright green go2 caddis pupa. All but one of the landed trout grabbed the caddis larva. In addition to the landed fish, I connected with five additional fish that stayed on my line only briefly before shaking free. This issue, losing fish, is becoming an ongoing concern this spring, but I am not sure how to remedy it.

During this nymphing exercise, I spotted only two rises. I fished from the midpoint of the north braid, until the point where it split off from the main stem, as another angler positioned himself in the nice pool just above the downstream confluence with the larger south branch. Not being able to cover the entire north branch was a disappointment, as the entire section was vacant, when I drove by and gazed up the river.

Once I arrived at the main river, I waded downstream to the point where the middle stem branched off, and then I worked my way westward along the right bank. I registered one of my temporary hook ups during this period. Once I reached the fast water, I reversed direction and moved to the nice slow moving pool above my crossing point. In the past I observed rising fish in this area. The sky clouded up nicely, so I patiently waited for a baetis hatch and rising fish. Alas, it never happened, but I decided to experiment with a double dry, and converted to a peacock hippie stomper trailing a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. Both flies were summarily ignored, even though I cast to very attractive water with a bubble line and moderate depth.

By 2:30PM I surrendered to the moody trout in the Arkansas River, and I crossed at the tail of the long pool. I was reluctant to return to the indicator nymphing method (split shot removal is a major pain in the a**), so I defaulted to a dry dropper with an amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl, bright green go2 caddis pupa, and olive perdigon. On the fifth cast the flies wedged on something subsurface, and I ended up breaking off all three flies. I was not a happy camper. I sat on a rock and repeated the rigging exercise with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, bright green go2 caddis pupa and an emerald caddis pupa.

I steadily worked my way up the river along the left bank, and I managed a refusal to the fat Albert and another temporary hook up on one of the nymphs. When I reached the pocket water, my satellite phone displayed 2:50PM, and my confidence was shot, so I carefully retreated and climbed the bank and returned to the car.

Four fish in four hours was a disappointing day. Had I landed all the fish I connected with, I would have logged a nine fish day, but a 100% conversion rate is not realistic. The blue wing olive hatch was extremely brief and never prompted me to switch to dry flies. A few caddis fluttered about on the rocks, but I suspect it was a different species and not brachycentrus. The wind was very annoying, the water was tinged, there were quite a few competing anglers, and I grew bored with the fishing by 2:00PM. Tuesday represented a lot of casting and elbow stress for minimal results. I will take a break from the lower Arkansas, and I will refocus my efforts on tailwaters, unless I discover a sure thing on a freestone.

Fish Landed: 4

South Platte River – 04/19/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 3:15PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/19/2024 Photo Album

Brutal. Brutal is the word that comes to mind to describe my day of fly fishing on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon on Friday, April 19, 2024. The trout that I landed on Friday were some of the hardest earned fish of my fly fishing life.

After a challenging but productive day on Monday, I reviewed my schedule and the weather forecast for another opportunity to visit Colorado rivers and streams. I had to take my new/used car into the dealer on Tuesday for a warranty repair, and the work lingered into Wednesday and thus eliminated two weekdays from my fishing plans. Thursday was grandson care day, so that left Friday. I launched Weather Underground, and I noticed that a storm system was moving in on Friday afternoon. The predicted conditions looked very similar to Monday, however, the temperatures were forecast to be a bit colder, and the storm arrived a bit earlier in the day. I decided to roll the dice, and I made the drive to Eleven Mile.

My decision was immediately fraught with adversity, as the traffic south through Denver was heavy and slow. The weather was very foreboding with dense clouds, drizzle and a temperature reading around freezing. I expected the cloud cover to lift by Colorado Springs, but that was not the case; however, as I moved west of Woodland Park, blue skies appeared in the western sky. The dashboard temperature climbed marginally to 34 degrees. Much to my amazement the temperature blasted from 34 degrees to 45 degrees by the time I reached the small town of Divide at the top of Ute Pass. Normally increases in elevation cause the temperature to plummet, but apparently the radiant energy from the clear sky and sun more than offset the elevation gain.

I arrived at my chosen destination in Eleven Mile Canyon by 11:00AM, and the temperature there was 47 degrees. My trust in Weather Underground was momentarily renewed. I busied myself preparing for a day of fishing in the canyon. I already wore my Under Armour long-sleeved undershirt, and I layered up with my fishing shirt, fleece hoodie, North Face light down and rain shell. I felt like Michelin Man. For headgear I snugged on my billed hat with earflaps, and with an eye toward the rain and temperature plunge in the afternoon, I stuffed my fingerless wool gloves in my pockets and placed my handwarmer packets in my wader bib muff. I pulled my blue hand towel from my waders and stuffed it inside my wader tops for easy access. For casting I chose my Sage One five weight in  case I lucked into a larger fish or had to fight the wind.

I marched up the dirt road and cut down directly opposite the long pool with the large vertical boulders along the western bank, and I began my fly fishing day with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, an emerald caddis pupa and a size 22 sparkle wing RS2. I began in the midsection of the long pool and worked my way up to the head of the pool. When I cast along the current seam of the left most entering braid, the fat Albert plunged, and I reacted with a swift hook set. The trout on my line fought like a trophy, but fairly quickly I determined that I foul hooked a thirteen inch brown. Disappointment reigned, as I was forced to get my hands wet to release a foul hooked fish. The breeze quickly evaporated my wet hand, and I felt the dreaded stinging sensation of numbing cold. This was just the beginning. I reentered the pool between the head and midsection, and I began lobbing longer casts toward the faster and deeper main, entering current seam, and on one of these longer casts, a fish grabbed the trailing sparkle wing, as it began to swing. This fish was attached to my line briefly, before it turned its head and managed to spring free from the tiny size 22 hook.

Two other anglers arrived, while this action transpired, and they stopped to fish in the pockets just above the pool I occupied. I decided to move to the super big bend pool ahead of them, but when I entered the river to wade along the east bank to the flat rock casting platform, I spotted a flurry of subtle rises in the medium size pool just below the super version. I made some casts with the dry/dropper and activated jigs, jerks, and swings; but the trout were not interested in my subsurface offerings. I could not resist dry fly fishing, so I disassembled my dry/dropper rig, and I converted to a peacock hippie stomper trailing a CDC blue wing olive. For the next thirty minutes, while the sky darkened, and the wind accelerated, and I skipped lunch, I made a generous number of casts, and I managed to land the first two trout of the day. One was a brown trout, and one was a rainbow, and they resisted netting quite well. I also experienced a copious number of refusals and a few very brief connections. I switched to a soft hackle emerger for a bit hoping it would outperform the CDC BWO, but that was not the case.

The hatch was rather intense, but my fly was largely ignored except for the two outliers that I mentioned, so I seined the water with my stretch net. After an adequate time period of seining, I examined the results, and I found several small nymphs and a newly emerged adult. I snapped some photos, and this now confirmed that the impetus for the steady feeding was a baetis hatch.

As this scene unfolded, the two hopscotching anglers moved past me to the super pool, and I rued my decision to linger in the lower pool, but much to my surprise, they bypassed the main pool and progressed to the two braids above the bend. By the time I decided to move up the river, they departed and climbed the steep bank to the road. Based on the change in weather that was forthcoming, they may have made a wise decision.

I took advantage of my good fortune, and I advanced to the super bend pool, however, I crossed at the tail and approached from the northwest bank. During this time I paused to eat my sandwich and carrots, but I was so cold that I saved my yogurt cup for when I returned to the car. Once again the sky darkened and the wind gusted, and the trout on my side of the river began a gluttonous feeding spree. By now my hands were gnarled, and my feet and legs were developing rigor mortis, as the temperature began its downward spiral. Once again I succeeded in duping one very nice rainbow trout, but this success story was accompanied by three very brief hook ups. My fly was a close but not exact imitation, and, in fact, the rainbow grabbed the CDC BWO, as I twitched it before lifting to cast. Movement was clearly a trigger, but it was difficult to consistently emulate the fluttering of the tiny naturals.

I was curious to check out the other side of the pool, so I crossed at the tail and assumed my advantageous position on the flat rock. This offered the advantage of keeping my feet and legs out of the water. Unfortunately this move coincided with a brief break in the clouds, and although my comfort level zoomed, the fish paused their feeding.

After ten minutes of fruitless casting, I moved on to the narrow island and proceeded to the upstream tip. I paused to observe the flats below the steep bank, and in short order I noticed a small pod of trout sipping toward the middle of the area. I cautiously waded my half frozen feet to a position just below the sipping rises, and I began to cast upstream and then across. I did not experience any luck, but after a few minutes I created a minor tangle, and once I was free to resume, I noticed another angler above me along the left bank. I was not sure whether he arrived after me, or whether he was there first, so I exited and crossed and walked the opposite bank to a position above him, where his side of the river was bordered by a huge vertical rock. I was unable to spot rising fish, where I normally find them. Meanwhile the other young angler moved upstream away from the flats, and he shouted to me. I was unable to hear him at first, but eventually I comprehended that he was asking, if he could “throw” below me. I replied, “sure”. and I moved on.

I intended to check out the nice wide smooth pool above the next two bends, but when I moved to a spot, where I could see the pool, I found another fisherman claiming the pool. I decided to reverse to the super bend pool before that got claimed, but as I passed the flats I noted a nice pod of feeding fish. Since the other angler had moved upstream, I felt that I was sufficiently below him, and I also was now fairly certain that he arrived after me. I stopped to fish the flats.

For the next hour plus I executed a huge quantity of casts. There was a definite ebb and flow to the feeding. The sky was consistently dark, but it became even nastier from time to time, and during these periods the feeding frenzy became quite intense. My fly was largely ignored, but I did coax three momentary connections, and I hooked and landed three very respectable trout to raise my fish count to six. One of these fish was a very fine fourteen inch brown trout with large and vivid black spots. The last trout was a hard charging rainbow trout also in the fourteen inch range.

This time of angling success coincided with very adverse conditions for the human angler. My feet and hands ached. I pulled my coat zipper as high as it would go and tipped my raincoat hood around my hat. I alternated putting my hands in my wader bib muff to grasp the hand warmers, and I used the blue hand towel to absorb as much water from my skin as possible. In spite of these measures, my core sank to new levels of chill. At one point small snow pellets descended from the dark sky, and this coincided with the most ravenous feeding of the day. I fished on while pellets glanced off my head and hands and fly rod.

By 3:15PM I became concerned for my for my well being, so I stripped in my line and carefully waded back downstream to a crossing point and then climbed the hazardous steep and icy bank and returned to the car. It was a rare instance, when this devoted angler left the river, while plentiful bugs continued to hatch, and fish continued to gorge. That gives the reader some indication of how cold I was.

Although six fish in three and a half hours of fishing seems like a poor catch rate, I was quite pleased. The quality and size of the fish was exceptional, and I worked extremely hard for these fish. I am perplexed, however, with the lack of acceptance of my flies. I am giving serious thought to tying some new baetis flies including a parachute CDC dry fly and a nymph with an olive body and a more narrow profile. The photo of the nymph in this post is a good example of the lean form I intend to copy. The bugs and trout loved the nasty weather, but this angler did not. Hopefully I can find a warmer day with decent cloud cover for my next baetis hatch adventure.

Fish Landed: 6

For the next hour I fi,


South Platte River – 04/15/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/15/2024 Photo Album

The hallmark of outstanding blue wing olive action is nasty weather, and Monday, April 15 was one of those days. I wrapped up our federal and state taxes on Saturday, and I decided to reward myself with a day of fly fishing. I was disgusted with my last visit to Eleven Mile Canyon on 04/03/2024, so I decided to seek redemption. There was some risk to this decision, however, as the weather app forecast wind speeds of 14 to 17 MPH during most of the time I expected to be on the water. The high temperature was projected in the mid fifties, and cloudy skies were predicted to roll in during the afternoon. The cloud cover clinched it, and I accepted the wind risk and made the two plus hour drive to Eleven Mile.

When I reviewed the dashboard thermometer upon my arrival, the temperature registered 54 degrees, and dried grass and riverside vegetation flapped in the regular gusts. I bypassed my long sleeve Brooks undershirt, but I slipped on my North Face light down and covered it with my gray rain shell as a windbreaker. With the possibility of larger than average fish, I assembled my Sage One five weight, and I departed along the dirt road that borders the river in the canyon. After .2 mile I found a reasonably negotiable trail over hard packed snow and descended to the river. I began my day with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, 20 incher, and a supernova baetis nymph. After a solid test period with no action, I exchanged the supernova for a sparkle wing RS2. I covered some very attractive water in the thirty minutes before lunch as well as the first hour afterward with no evidence of trout other than a couple very sporadic slashing rises near my starting point. I was convinced that I was on track for a repeat of April 04/03/2024.

Between 1:00 and 1:30PM I fished the long pool next to the high rock wall on the western bank. I ate lunch next to this section and carefully scanned the water for signs of a blue wing olive hatch, but none appeared. I probed the seams along the deep entering runs and then covered the midsection by dead drifting the nymphs with a sweeping swing at the end. Nothing. I was actually surprised to have the entire pool to myself, but the lack of action may have explained that circumstance.

I moved on and tossed a few casts into some marginal deep pockets along the left bank with no success, and then I skipped another deep run and pool and approached the super big bend pool. I was certain that there were abundant fish in the pool, so a lack of action could only be explained by fly choice or lack of appetite among the fish.

I perched on the nice flat rock that serves as a convenient casting platform along the left bank, and sure enough, I spotted many trout (and suckers) finning in the slow moving deep pool above and next to my position. I observed for a bit, and as I did so, several of the trout that hovered within the upper two feet rose and sipped something small from the surface. I began casting my dry/dropper, and I imparted various types of movements to my drifts including jigging, lifting and swinging; but the targets ignored my efforts and continued to occasionally feed. As time transpired, the frequency of surface rises increased, and I finally decided to commit to a dry fly presentation.

I removed the dry/dropper configuration and added a two foot extension of 5X tippet to my leader, and then I knotted a CDC blue winged olive to my line. The tiny wisp of a fly was difficult to track, but I managed to land three nice trout, two rainbows and a brown in the twelve to thirteen inch range, on the CDC BWO. This was by no means an easy achievement, as I experienced twenty unproductive drifts for each instance, where a fish ate my fly.

The fish in my vicinity seemed to grow wise to my presence, so I moved upstream to another large exposed rock right below the entry of the eastern braid of the river. A large eddy swirled the entering current, and several fish were facing downstream to intercept natural morsels as they swirled by an exposed rock. I switched from the CDC BWO to a soft hackle emerger, and I applied a heavy dose of floatant to the body of the emerger. This change in tactics paid dividends, when I hooked and landed a nice rainbow trout from the area where the current from the east braid met the main river current. As I rested my rod on the large rock to release my catch, I noticed that the slow water along the bank was blanketed with small blue wing olive cripples.

I pursued the super pool for a bit longer, but the sun came out and the rising fish ceased to appear, so I decided to advance up the river beyond the small narrow island that split the river into the east and west branches. When I reached the tip of the island, I slowly waded through the shallow water in the middle of the river and scanned the smooth left channel for signs of feeding fish. After a cautious approach, I was next to the faster moving upper section that fanned out into a nice smooth pool, and a few rises manifested themselves.

I returned to a size 22 CDC blue wing olive, and I began fluttering casts to the middle and far side of the river, but the fish ignored my olive tuft. After quite a few casts, I finally induced a take and landed a nice twelve inch brown trout. I remained in this area from 2:00PM, until I quit at 4:00 PM, and I added three more spunky fighters to my fish count. A fourteen inch brown trout with dark black ink spots was the prize of this time period. During this two hour window the sky darkened and the wind kicked up for long stretches, and these bits of nasty weather provoked some fairly intense feeding from the river residents. I executed hundreds of casts and toggled between the CDC olive and the soft hackle emerger, as I attempted to discover the fly that would induce confident takes. I never really found it, but I did experience six temporary connections, when the trout was barely pricked by my hook point. This indicated to me that my fly was very close to the natural, but something was slightly off. I should add that I added a hippie stomper as the forward fly in a two dry fly arrangement near the outset of the 2-4 hour time frame. Perhaps the one foot leader from the stomper to the baetis imitation was restricting movement a bit, and thus the timid takes and refusals?

As this madness unfolded, I became a very chilled human being. My feet were the worst, and they morphed into icy stumps. The wind blasted frequently, and I pulled my buff up over my ears, and that helped, but the stiffness and cold of my feet and legs progressed upward to my core. Fortunately the sight of ravenously feeding fish allowed me to focus my mind away from discomfort and on to the task of fooling fish.

Finally by 3:45PM I could no longer withstand the cold and wind, so I stripped in my line and hooked the CDC BWO to my rod guide. I traversed the narrow island, crossed to the east bank and climbed a treacherous steep bank to return to the Telluride. The temperature on the dashboard, as I drove north on the access road was 51 degrees. What happened to the high in the mid fifties? It actually got colder as the afternoon progressed, and that does not even address the wind chill.

When the sky darkened and the wind accelerated, the fish feasted. I endured the weather, and my reward was the most intense dry fly fishing of the season thus far. I admit that I was disappointed with the high number of drop offs, but I cannot complain about the long and steady hatch and the hot action between 1:30 and 4:00PM. A longer 5X leader from the indicator dry to the baetis imitation may be the answer to more consistent takes. Hopefully I will get another near term opportunity to test this theory.

Fish Landed: 8



Big Thompson River – 04/12/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 2:45PM

Location: Canyon below Estes Park

Big Thompson River 04/12/2024 Photo Album

Another fabulous early spring day was forecast for Friday, April 12, and I decided to take advantage for a day of fly fishing. After the long drive on Wednesday to the Arkansas River, I was averse to making a trip in excess of two hours, so I focused on South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson River. Both locations projected high temperatures in the low sixties, and flows were favorable on both streams. South Boulder Creek was running at 44 CFS and the Big Thompson rolled along at 55 CFS. The fly shop report suggested blue wing olives were present on the Big Thompson, and South Boulder Creek necessitated a fairly arduous return hike, so I chose the Big Thompson.

I arrived at my chosen pullout by 10:40AM, and this enabled me to be positioned along the stream casting by 11:00AM. I used my Sage R8 four weight, and I wore my North Face light down parka. I began my day with a tan ice dub body chubby Chernobyl and a beadhead hares ear nymph along with a salvation nymph. Within the first fifteen minutes I hooked and landed a small brown trout that was barely over six inches, but as I reached for my net that is usually dangling behind me, it was absent. This sent me into panic mode, and I began to plan a trip to a fly shop in Estes Park to buy a new net. Before resorting that rash solution, however, I decided to retrace my steps to the car if necessary. Did I fail to clip it to my retractor at the car? I was fairly certain that was not the case.

I waded back down the river a short distance to the small island, where I began, but it was nowhere to be found. What if it wasn’t properly clipped and fell in the river and floated downstream? Next, I waded back to the bank on the US 34 side of the river, and then I followed my path back to the highway. I scrambled up some large rocks, and I was extremely pleased to spot my net five feet off the asphalt. What happened? I inspected the net and discovered that the eye screw that goes into the handle pulled out; and, sure enough, clip that snaps into the retractor remained in place with the eye screw dangling from it. I pulled the eye screw out and twisted it back in the hole on the end of the net, until it was very secure, and I returned to the point, where I was interrupted. What a relief to recover my net in a fairly short amount of time.

Between 11:30 and 2:15 I prospected the dry/dropper arrangement, as I worked my way upstream, and I landed two additional small trout to finish the day at three. I was quite disappointed with this performance, however, I had my opportunities for a better outcome. I actually connected with nine fish, but six managed to evade my net; and, of course, the escapees felt like the better fish. By one o’clock I expected to see some blue wing olive activity, so I abandoned the salvation nymph and replaced it with a sparkle wing RS2 size 22. I suspect that my long distance releases after this fly change can be attributed to the small hook size.

By 2:00PM I reached private water, so I returned to the car and drove downstream a mile or two to another favorite location. Unfortunately an angler was in the pool that I targeted, and a car was parked in my normal spot, so I rolled downstream a bit farther. I gathered all my gear and hiked down the road a tenth of a mile or so, and I resumed my quest for trout. I was curious to experiment with a smaller dry fly, so I removed the dry/dropper offerings and transitioned to a peacock hippie stomper with a size 16 olive-brown body caddis. I flicked these flies to likely locales particularly along the bank and large protective boulders, but the fish were having none of it. By this time the sun was bright in the sky, and the temperature elevated, and it seemed as if the trout were lulled into sleep mode. When I reached a point, where the channel narrowed and created deep plunge pools and fast runs, I called it quits and climbed the steep boulder strewn bank and then ambled back to the car.

Friday was a disappointing day for this avid angler. Three trout landed in three hours of fishing is rather abysmal, and the size of the trout was lacking as well. In spite of these results, I was motivated by the fairly steady action created by temporary connections, and these fish raised my interest, because they felt larger and fought harder. I have no explanation for my poor conversion ratio of hook ups to netted other than the small hook size of the RS2. The R8 rod carries a softer tip than most of my other rods, so perhaps I need to strengthen my hook set power lift. The weather and the beauty of my surroundings were a distinct positive.

Fish Landed: 3

Arkansas River – 04/10/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Big Horn Sheep Canyon

Arkansas River 04/10/2024 Photo Album

After two subpar outings on Colorado Rivers during the last week, I was anxious for redemption. I was pleased with my visit to the lower Arkansas River on 03/27/2024, so I decided to repeat the drive. The flows and clarity were favorable, and the fly shop reports were optimistic (as they usually are), so I took the plunge and made the 2.5 hour drive. I suffered through rush hour traffic in Denver, a long stretch of road construction south of Colorado Springs, a detour around an accident between Florence and Canon City, and ongoing construction on the main street of Canon City. I was exhausted before I arrived at my chosen fishing spot.

The air temperature was in the mid-fifties, so I pulled on my North Face light down coat, and I assembled my Sage R8 four weight. A white pickup truck preceded me, and I spotted two anglers meandering along the river sixty yards above me. To start my day I elected to hike east along US 50 for .2 mile, before I dropped down a steep bank to the river. My morning session featured fishing to long and deep pockets among very large boulders next to the highway. I began my adventure with a New Zealand chartreuse strike indicator, a split shot, a 20 incher, and a bright green go2 caddis pupa. The 20 incher proved to be in demand, and I landed a small brown and a thirteen inch rainbow, before I adjourned for lunch and returned to the car.

I quickly devoured my standard lunch, and then I crossed two braids and headed to the northern most branch of the river. This was the section I fished on March 27, and I was looking forward to a repeat during the afternoon. However, before advancing to the north branch, I covered some nice deep shelf pools on the braid that bordered the highway. Although the water looked quite enticing, I was unable to attract fish, so I moved on to the confluence of the north braid and the main river. I shuffled along the south bank, until I was positioned next to a large pool twenty yards above the confluence. I swapped the 20 incher for an emerald caddis pupa, and I added a sparkle wing RS2 on the point, and I began to prospect the prime water with my indicator nymphing setup.

I managed to hook and land a spunky thirteen inch rainbow, but as I advanced, I was disappointed to note the return of the occupants of the white pickup truck. While I was eating lunch, they returned to the truck for lunch, and I hoped that they were preparing to relocate, but that was not the case. They were positioned in another prime run and pool fifty yards above my location.

I continued my progress through some decent deep runs along the north side of the river with a couple momentary hook ups rewarding my efforts, until I arrived at a narrow and deep trough along the north bank below a large exposed rock. I was now twenty yards below the two other anglers, who by the way, were the only other fishermen that I spotted on the entire river between Parkdale and where I was fishing. It was just my luck to seek out the same section of the vast Arkansas River public water.

I swept some drifts through the attractive trough in front of me, and as I was doing so, a cloud blocked the sun and the wind kicked up a bit, and five trout began to rise sporadically in the trough area. I checked my watch, and this activity commenced at around 1:30PM. The rises were fairly frequent, but they were not the rhythmic cadence that typically leads to fairly easy fishing. Dry fly fishing to blue wing olives is what I made the trip for, so I paused to remove the indicator nymphing paraphernalia, and I selected a peacock body hippie stomper and added a CDC blue wing olive on a twelve inch dropper. I spent the next forty-five minutes making reach casts along the bubble line, and my fly was treated like inert flotsam. I swapped the CDC olive for a soft hackle emerger and a Klinkhammer emerger, but a refusal and brief look were my only reward. The lighting was not the best, and I was having a difficult time distinguishing the white poly tuft of the hippie stomper from bubbles. I reverted to a size 24 CDC BWO with tiny hackle, since the naturals appeared to be quite small. Finally during a gust of wind, I lifted the flies and inadvertently skated the small trailing CDC BWO, and an aggressive brown trout grabbed the olive. Apparently movement was the key. I concluded that the trout were seeking more movement than what was exhibited by my dead drifting dries, so I began twitching and skating the flies, but, alas, I was unable to entice another strike.

The two anglers above me departed, and this opened up the remainder of the north braid for my exploration. I retained the double dry for a bit, but the faster pockets and runs were not conducive to spotting rises, so I resorted to nymphs; however, I was reluctant to resort to the indicator and split shot, so I deployed a size 8 yellow fat Albert along with a salvation nymph and sparkle wing RS2. Between 2:45PM and 4:00PM I advanced along the left side of the north braid, and I managed to increment the fish count from four to seven. The RS2 was the productive fly, and the trout responded to the swing and lift at the end of the drift in moderate riffles of two to three feet of depth. These trout were in the twelve inch range, and I was pleased to net them, but the average size of the trout landed on April 10 was inferior compared to March 27.

By 4:00PM I reached the main stem of the river, so I waded along the edge toward my crossing point to return to the car. Below a long section of fast pocket water, the river formed a nice wide pool, and I spotted a few rises in the slow band of water along the bank next to my position. I took the time to remove the dry/dropper and tied a solo CDC BWO to my line, but as was the case on March 27, the feeding stopped by the time I was prepared to cast, and the change in tactics did not pay dividends. I returned to the car by 4:30PM and made the return trip.

Wednesday, April 10 was a decent day, but I truthfully had higher expectations. Using 20-20 hindsight, I probably should have reverted to the indicator nymphing method after my failed attempt with the double dry. Also, I should have abandoned the dry fly debacle sooner, and perhaps I should have sought another section of the river that featured the absence of competing anglers. Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous day, and I enjoyed moderate success.

Fish Landed: 7


Clear Creek – 04/08/2024

Time: 2:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 04/08/2024 Photo Album

A high of 59 F on Monday April 8 prompted me to entertain the idea of a fishing trip. Of course, Monday, April 8 is notable as the day of the solar eclipse. Here in Denver the experts determined that 70% blockage of the sun was expected. The peak partial eclipse was supposed to develop at around 1:30PM.  Jane and I played pickleball in the morning, and upon my return I ate my lunch and loaded the car for fishing. As I was doing so, my neighbors appeared in the alley along with their dog, and I asked if they looked at the sun. They responded with an enthusiastic yes, and they asked if I had, and I replied that we failed to purchase eclipse glasses, My neighbor, Josh, immediately walked toward me and offered one set of their glasses. I stretched them across my regular sunglasses, and I was quite amazed at the image. Roughly 2/3 of the sun was covered in black. I returned to the house and offered the glasses to Jane, who was equally impressed with the partial eclipse image. I am so pleased that we did not pass up eclipse viewing, even a 70% event. The next full eclipse is on the calendar for some time in 2044.

Once my solar viewing was complete, I drove to Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden. I wish I could say this was uneventful, but the short trip required two detours and a ten minute wait due to construction in the canyon. My decision to check the maps app before departing proved to be a very worthwhile act.

The temperature in the canyon, when I arrived at my parking space, was 53 degrees, so I bundled with a long sleeved thermal undershirt, fishing shirt, North Face light down parka, and my rain shell. I wore my billed hat with ear flaps for ear coverage. Nearly the entire fishing time was in the shade of the canyon, and aside from my hands and feet, I was reasonably comfortable. For my fishing tool I fit together my Sage four weight, and after trudging along a fisherman and rock climbing path, I descended to the creek.

I began my quest for canyon trout with a yellow size 8 fat Albert and trailed a 20 incher and emerald caddis pupa. I prospected my way up the creek for 1.5 hours, and I am disappointed to report that I hooked only one small brown trout on the fat Albert. I tossed the dry/dropper in all the likely fish holding locales, however, the stream residents, if they, in fact, existed ignored my nymphs. I did observe a couple looks at the fat Albert, but the subsurface action was nonexistent. For the end fly I cycled through a beadhead hares ear nymph, ultra zug bug, black balanced mini leech, a salvation nymph and a go2 bright green caddis. My confidence fell to new depths, and I vowed to not return to Clear Creek for awhile.

The water was a bit off color, and I never saw signs of insect activity, so I speculated that low level snow melt from recent storms was impacting the water clarity and temperature. I tried lengthening the dropper leader near the start to obtain deeper drifts, but all my changes in flies and tactics failed to reverse the adverse fortunes. In my two most recent outings I got skunked and then landed one fish, so I am due for a change in fortunes. I will probably pass on fishing during the 2044 solar eclipse.

Fish Landed: 1

South Platte River – 04/03/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 3:15PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/03/2024 Photo Album

Highs in the upper 60’s in Denver, CO prompted me to search for a fishing destination on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. After some blue winged olive action on the Arkansas River on my last trip, I decided to investigate the presence of olives on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. Historically I experienced some fabulous days in early April on that tailwater river. I invited my young fishing companion, Nate, to join me on his weekday off; and he accepted.

We met at a park and ride along I25, and we arrived in Eleven Mile by 10:30AM. We had to stop in Florissant at a convenience store to break a ten dollar bill in order to have the $4.50 in cash to pay the senior day use fee. The temperature upon our arrival was around 45 degrees with a moderate breeze, so I layered up with my Columbia long sleeved undershirt, fleece hoodie, North Face light down and rain shell along with my billed hat with ear flaps. I felt like a stuffed sausage, as I assembled my Sage One five weight for a day on the river.

Nate and I hiked up the road a bit and then found a steep and snowy quasi-path to the river. I took extremely small steps and attempted to dig in my studded wading boots to avoid injury at the outset of our day. When we arrived at the river, we post-holed a bit in order to enter the water. The flows were tumbling along at 135 CFS, which is a bit higher than I favor, but the clarity was excellent, and I was certain that a blue winged olive hatch would eventually bring the trout to the surface.

To start my day I rigged with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, beadhead hares ear nymph and sparkle wing RS2, but during the one hour morning session I was only able to generate a momentary hook up with a rainbow trout, as I lifted my flies above a depression in slow water. I could see two decent trout finning in the hole over a light sand bottom, so I was sight fishing, when the connection occurred.

Two anglers occupied one of our favorite large pools, so after lunch on a sunny rock we skipped around them and proceeded up the river. Ultimately we hoped to occupy the productive bend pool below the split braids, but a fisherman jumped in ahead of us, so we prospected the pool below that with no positive results.

Injured Bird

The fisherman above us departed after a short amount of time, and he politely waved us on, so we complied with his suggestion and moved to one of our favorite spots in Eleven Mile Canyon. Nate waded across the river and commandeered the same rock that was recently the perch of the departing angler, and I moved up along the west bank to the riffles at the top of the pool.

We pounded this area for an hour and a half, and Nate enjoyed success with an olive body RS2. He landed a fifteen inch rainbow near the entry point of the eastern most braid above the pool, and he landed a second fish, when he returned to his favorite rock perch.

I, meanwhile, experienced nothing but frustration. My chartreuse strike indicator disappeared at one point, and this forced me to devote time to replacing it. Apparently the transparent plastic sleeve that locks the wool tuft in the loop split and fell off during casting. At a later point Nate asked if my strike indicator was on the bank below me, and sure enough I was able to recover the wool clump for future use.

For flies I cycled through quite an array of favorites. I tested my olive perdigon, classic RS2, sparkle wing RS2, soft hackle emerger, ultra zug bug, salvation nymph, and emerald caddis pupa. When Nate reported success with the olive RS2, I experimented with three small green and olive colored nymphs in my fleece wallet, but none of them produced. I did manage another split second connection, as the nymphs swept across the center of the pool, and I suspect the attractor was the classic RS2 that was on my line at the time along with one of the larger nymphs.

By 2:30 my frustration reached a new level, and Nate was catching a few fish on the dry/dropper, so I transitioned from indicator nymphing to dry/dropper. I used a yellow size 8 fat Albert, and I trailed a salvation nymph and a sparkle wing RS2, as I progressed upstream from the big bend pool, while Nate remained on his large rock perch below the pod of trout and suckers.

I quickly covered the north channel with no sign of trout, until I approached the glassy, smooth pool along the steep bank that drops from the access road. I paused to observe, and while a large cloud blocked the sun, I spotted three rises in the slow moving water along the far bank, so I decided to commit to a double dry approach that entailed a hippie stomper trailing a CDC blue winged olive. By the time I completed my transition, the sun reappeared, and the feeding fish were reduced to one hungry trout directly across from me. A glare made identifying the landing spot of the flies difficult, but I covered the far edge with a barrage of casts. It was very difficult to achieve a dead drift for more than three or four feet, but I did manage a swirl to the one of the flies, as it began to drag across the current. After fifteen minutes of futility, the surface feeding halted, so I once again migrated upstream, but without rising fish, my double dry set up seemed futile.

We needed to depart by 3:30PM, so at 3:00PM we reversed our direction back to the large bend pool. I stole Nate’s favorite rock, and I could see the large swarm of nice fish in the depression nearby, but the trout were not rising and probably feeding near the bottom. My double dry was not the correct offering; however, I gave it an honest effort, before I called it quits at 3:15PM and climbed the steep and icy path back to the road.

I suspect this was my first skunking at Eleven Mile amongst many very productive visits, so I will not allow a tough day to deter me from future trips. I experienced two very brief hook ups in 3.5 hours of fishing. I observed only a handful of naturals on the water, and I suspect that explains the lack of action. Nate’s success with the olive RS2 will motivate me to tie some for future consumption. Intermittent sun raised the afternoon temperature to the low fifties, so I was relatively comfortable on an early spring day on the South Platte River. I was outdoors in Colorado, and that alone, made the day a success.

Fish Landed: 0

Arkansas River – 03/27/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Big Horn Sheep Canyon

Arkansas River 03/27/2024 Photo Album

I was seeking warmer temperatures somewhere in Colorado after another slug of winter hit the state on Sunday, March 24, 2024. As I scanned my Weather Underground app, I noted that most highs were in the 40’s, and I am averse to fishing in winter conditions. However, I discovered a ray of hope, when I tapped on the Canon City location, where the high on Wednesday was expected to peak at 52 degrees. I decided to explore the lower Arkansas River.

I was reluctant to fish in the lower canyon because of the Hayden Creek fire burn scar and subsequent ash flows leading to reduced insect populations and subsequently an impact on trout numbers. For this reason I avoided the area over the intervening eight years, but weather considerations caused me to reevaluate. I called ArkAnglers, and the gentleman I talked to assured me that the lower canyon had recovered, so that became my destination.

Road construction on I25 and major road work in Canon City slowed my progress, but I arrived at my chosen destination by 10:30AM. I was excited to renew my acquaintance with a favorite spot in lower Big Horn Sheep Canyon. The temperature was 42 degrees, as I prepared to fish. I donned my Under Armour long sleeve thermal undershirt, fleece cardigan, North Face light down coat and rain shell along with my billed New Zealand hat with earflaps. I was layered up and prepared for the cold. For a fly casting instrument I chose my newest Sage R8 four weight.

I began in a section of the main river that ran next to US24. The river was tinged with color, so I rigged with a strike indicator, split shot, molting rubber legs stonefly, and 20 incher. I utilized lots of weight, and It was at this point that I discovered that I lost the wool material for my New Zealand strike indicator, so I was forced to deploy an orange Thingamabobber.

I worked the deep, slow moving slicks next to the steep rocky bank for 45 minutes, until I got snagged. The wedged flies were in a spot that was too fast and deep to risk a rescue, so I yanked directly on the line and popped off both flies and the split shot. I replaced the tandem with an emerald caddis pupa and classic RS2, and just before I quit for lunch, a nice, thick rainbow nailed the caddis emerger. I was on the board, but my hands were stinging from the cold, and it was lunch time, so I climbed the bank and returned to the car. I grabbed my lunch and sat in the drivers seat, and I turned on the car to check the temperature, and it displayed 36 degrees. How could this be?

When I returned to the river, I added fingerless wool gloves to my winter attire, and I crossed the highway and several braids to reach the northern-most channel. For the remainder of the afternoon I worked my way up the entire north branch and landed another seven trout. One additional trout took the caddis pupa, and the remainder snatched the RS2, The rainbow that grabbed the pupa, broke off the RS2 in the process of fighting, and I replaced it with a sparkle wing version of the RS2.

Around 2PM the pace of the action increased noticeably, and I spotted a few natural olives above the river along with two bankside risers; however, my success rate was such that I stuck with the indicator nymphing set up. Clearly, however, the fish were tuned into baetis activity in the mid to late afternoon.

In addition to the eight fish that I landed on the day, I experienced at least six additional trout hook ups, that I fought for varying lengths of time, before they managed to escape. The downside of using size 20 RS2’s is the lower ratio of hooked to landed fish. One of these fugitives from my hook point was a decent rainbow that totally cleared the surface of the river and snapped off the RS2, as the aggressive fish splashed back down. I replaced the sparkle wing with a beadhead soft hackle emerger, and that yielded a few fish over the remainder of my time on the river.

Surprisingly, five of the landed trout were rainbows, with the remainder being browns. I say surprisingly because memory tells me that this section of the Arkansas River was ninety percent brown trout, when I fished it eight years ago prior to the Hayden Fire. The size of the trout was quite favorable with nearly all falling within the twelve to fourteen inch range, with chunky thirteen inch fish being the norm.

As I hiked back along the main stem of the river at 4PM, I spotted some rising trout along the near bank, and I could see more naturals drifting up from the river, than I had seen previously. This observation caused me to extend my day, and I removed all the nymphing accoutrements and tied on a CDC BWO. By the time I reconfigured, however, the flurry of surface feeding subsided, but I did manage to get a look from the most upstream feeder. I was having issues with tracking the tiny fly in the surface glare, so I added a peacock hippie stomper as the forward fly, but that move failed to produce success, so I called it quits and returned to the Telluride.

While I would have preferred more surface feeding and dry fly action, I was quite pleased with my day. Eight nice trout over four hours equals an average of two fish per hour catch rate, but this could have easily been better, had I converted more of my connections. The size of the trout was satisfactory, and the trout were hot fighters that challenged my fish fighting abilities. This was my first usage of the indicator nymphing technique in quite awhile, and I was pleased with my ability to achieve success. Above all, I discovered that the lower Big Horn Sheep Canyon has, indeed, recovered from the fire, and I will surely add the area as a future fly fishing destination.

Landed Fish: 8

Arkansas River – 03/20/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 3:45PM

Location: Big Horn Sheep Canyon

Arkansas River 03/20/2024 Photo Album

My last fishing outing was on 03/12/2024, and my friend, Howie, and I experienced a skunking on Bear Creek. The largest snowstorm of the year swept through Colorado on March 14, and that halted any thoughts I had of visiting a local stream. I celebrated my birthday on Saturday, and for some unknown reason I was wiped out by sickness early Monday morning. This circumstance also interrupted my fly fishing plans; however, by Wednesday, March 20, the first full day of spring, my health and the area rivers were ripe for a day of fishing.

I evaluated my alternatives, but I quickly selected the Arkansas River below Salida for my trip. The weather predicted a high in the mid-fifties with single digit wind speeds, and the fly shop reports documented low and clear river conditions along with mention of midge hatches and some signs of baetis nymph movement. I was itching for a shot at bigger water and potentially larger fish, so I made the three hour drive from my home in Denver to the Big Horn Sheep Canyon section below Salida. On Tuesday evening I perused my blog reports for the Arkansas River from previous visits in March, and this set my expectation for five to ten fish while bottom dredging with stonefly nymphs. It’s early season, so any sort of action was welcome after the March 12  shutout.

When I arrived at the roadside pullout, the dashboard temperature registered a cool 42 degrees, so I slipped into my long sleeved thermal undershirt, North Face light down coat, and rain shell. I chose my billed New Zealand hat with ear flaps, and this bundled outfit kept me warm throughout my time on the water. It was particularly valuable in the first hour, before the sun worked its magic on the air temperature along the river. I fitted together my Sage One five weight rod, and I hiked toward a favorite location on the river only to find another angler stationed in one of my productive long deep runs. I only saw a few parked cars along the highway, but apparently one of the fishermen had the same idea about a fishing site as me.

I stealthily cut down to the river and turned right, so that I was situated fifty yards above him, and I quickly rigged my line with a fish skull sculpin and Mickey Finn streamer. I intended to test out one of the new black ghosts I tied recently, but I left them in the boat box in the car, so I defaulted to the next best classic streamer in my collection, the Mickey Finn. I covered a twenty-five yard section of the river characterized by moderate velocity current and intermediate depth riffles, but I was unable to generate even a follow. I decided to make a longer cast and sweep behind a large exposed rock, but in my haste I lost awareness of my position, and hooked my backcast on a tree limb. I waded to a spot beneath the tree and attempted to spot the two flies, and I was able to identify a section of monofilament. When I moved closer, however, I realized that this was the leader from another unfortunate angler. I stared at the other branches on the limb, and in a short amount of time I saw my broken off streamers. I placed my rod out of harms way, and I scanned the bank for a retrieval instrument.

There it was. An eight foot long dead limb was beneath the tree, so I grabbed it and attempted to bend the small branch that possessed my flies, but it was still alive and not brittle, and, therefore, not prone to breakage. I changed tactics and used one of the protruding nubs on my retrieval branch, and I began to rake downward over the flies, and on the fifth attempt the tip of the branch broke off, and my flies tumbled to the earth, where I was able to capture them. I quickly snipped off the tippet and returned them to my fleece wallet and began my fly fishing day anew.

I was now below a long narrow island that divided the river in half with 75% of the volume on the left and 25% on the right, so I approached the right braid. The low and clear nature of the river precluded streamers, nymphs or large bulky dry flies, so I elected to knot a peacock body hippie stomper to my line. This fly has become a favorite, and I love its buoyancy and visibility and relatively small size for a foam attractor.

As I knotted my new offering to my line, I noticed a couple nervous spots across from me at the tail end of the long pool. It was difficult to discern whether the movement resulted from fish, current waves, or the wind; but I was preoccupied with tying on my fly, so I did not study the scene. Once I was ready, however, I was quite sure that a couple fish were subtly sipping minute food from the surface or just below the surface. My fly was probably not what they were tuned into, but I tossed a couple casts up and across nonetheless, and crush, a fine, wild brown trout of thirteen inches inhaled the attractor dry. This was too good to be true.

I refreshed the fly, and cast a bit higher up in the center current seam, and, whack, another carbon copy brown trout slid into my net. I felt like I was in a dream. Again I dried my stomper, but successive casts failed to elicit a response, yet the regular feeding pace increased, and additional trout showed their presence above to the left and right of the center current. Apparently I duped the dumb ones or the exceptionally hungry members of the school, and now the discerning eaters were teaching me a lesson. I stripped in my hippie stomper and added an eighteen inch section of 5X leader to the bend, and then I attached a CDC blue winged olive (CDC BWO)  as the second fly.

For the next forty-five minutes I fired casts to all the sites of recent rises, and I netted an additional four brown trout. Now I was beyond dreamland, and these were all quite nice trout in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. Two temporary hookups added to the action along the channel pool. When I arrived at the top of the pool, I spotted the dorsal fin of the largest feeder in the area, and my heart rate elevated in anticipation of wrangling with the big daddy. Alas, after four or five drifts that did not tempt an eat, I watched the behemoth, as it slowly cruised to a spot of hiding.

I glanced at my watch, and it was now 1:10PM and way beyond my lunchtime, so I found a dry spot on the north bank among some rocks and munched my sandwich and carrots. I observed sporadic blue winged olives, so this confirmed the source of the earlier eating frenzy. From past experience I knew the area across from me was a prime spot, as the river deflected off a high vertical rock wall. A shallow riffle was upstream of the rock, and then a nice run and pool of moderate depth developed. I carefully waded across the river and positioned myself at the upper end of the area, and I fed downstream casts through the entire zone, but the fish were not rising, and the attractor did not work its magic.

By two o’clock I adjourned to the north bank and progressed up the river while prospecting attractive sections of moderate depth and current velocity. Lacking risers, I abandoned the CDC BWO, and I replaced the double dry setup with an emerald caddis pupa and RS2. In a nice long pocket behind some exposed rock, I hooked and landed a thirteen inch brown trout that aggressively attacked the caddis pupa, but in the process of landing, the RS2 broke off. I replaced the RS2 with a size 18 baetis imitation that I tied many years ago from my Scott Sanchez book, and I continued my upstream progression.

After twenty minutes of fruitless casting, and as the wind began to gust in a more significant way, I cast along the seam next to some faster water. I had replaced the hippie stomper with a yellow fat Albert for better visibility in the afternoon glare, and suddenly the fat Albert dove. I reacted with a quick set, and the battle ensued. In this case I eventually hoisted a fifteen inch rainbow trout into my net, and it displayed the twenty plus year old baetis in its lip. Wonders never cease.

By 3:15PM I reached my crossing point, so I carefully shuffled across and climbed the roadside bank and then investigated the long smooth pool below the high rock bluff next to the car. I was unable to spot fish, and had it not been so close to quitting time, I would have switched to a deep nymphing rig. But I was weary and close to the end, so I stayed with the dry/dropper and fished the twenty-five yard section of moderate riffles over a rocky bottom that led into the pool. Nothing. I concluded that my leader was too short and rather than bother to lengthen it, I swapped the emerald caddis pupa for a weighted size 12 20 incher with a beadhead. That did not work either, so I reeled up the slack and called it quits at 3:45PM.

What a day! This was easily the best day of the year so far. Eight fish in 3.5 hours of fishing is not exceptional, but the quality of the fish was outstanding with a size range from twelve to fifteen inches. Every fish was a wild and healthy battler, and I was thankful for that. Icing on the cake was landing six beauties on dry flies. Fishing successfully to rising fish on March 20 is something to embrace and remember.

Fish Landed: 8

Bear Creek – 03/12/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: West of Morrison

Bear Creek 03/12/2024 Photo Album

I did not lose any flies, and I did not fall in the creek. I did not injure myself in any way, and I did not break any equipment items. The weather was quite nice for late winter, and my new car performed admirably. My friend, Howie, accompanied me on this trip to Bear Creek, and he was the perfect companion. There were a lot of positives on March 12, 2024.

Howie and I arrived at our chosen fly fishing destination at 11:10AM, and the parking lot was completely devoid of vehicles. I was curious to know what it looked like on the previous sunny Sunday. I pulled on my North Face light down coat and added my rain shell along with my billed hat with ear flaps. The dashboard thermometer registered in the low 50’s, but I knew from previous visits that fishing in the shadow of the nearby ridge was a chilly experience. Quite a bit of snow and ice shelves remained along the first section of the creek that we fished, and this was testimonial to the lack of sunshine and frigid temperatures.

Initially I rigged with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, size 14 prince nymph and a size 16 beadhead hares ear. Howie opted for a grasshopper with a gray dubbed body and a beadhead hares ear nymph, that he tied. We alternated casting in pools for the first hour, but there was no evidence of trout in the crystal clear and low Bear Creek. After thirty minutes I swapped the hares ear for a salvation nymph, and the change had no impact on the sulking trout population in Bear Creek.

After lunch we resumed our upstream migration; but, alas our fortunes remained on the negative side of the ledger. I cycled through numerous fly changes including an olive mini leech, a 20 incher as the top fly for added weight, and an RS2. The 20 incher was an experiment with fishing depth, and the RS2 tested the idea that the fish were tuned into smaller natural food items. Neither theory applied, but I searched for answers nonetheless. Howie stayed with his hopper and hares ear, and midway through our afternoon, I swapped the hares ear for an apricot egg.

By 2PM we reached a less attractive section of water that was characterized by wide and shallow riffles, so we hoofed back to the car and drove to another parking lot farther upstream. Here we quickly grabbed our gear and hiked for .3 mile, before we cut to the creek and resumed our dance with futility. During this last part of our day, I witnessed a brown trout, as it rose and snubbed the fat Albert, and that was my closest encounter with a trout during the three hours of fly fishing. I also sighted a trout along the bank below an ice shelf, but I was unable to get quality drifts over the target, and it disappeared into the depths.

Toward the end of the day Howie broke off both his flies on a rock, so he converted to a deep nymphing configuration with a strike indicator and beadhead hares ear. I observed, as he made some impressive drifts through promising runs and along undercut banks, logs and ice shelves; but the magic was absent for him as well. The sky once again clouded over, and a sudden chill enveloped our persons, so we returned to the parking lot at 3:00PM and made the return drive to home.

I listed the positives in the first paragraph, but I am forced to admit that we were victims of a double skunking on Bear Creek. For me, early season fly fishing is very temperamental, and I anxiously look forward to warmer temperatures, increased insect activity and active fish. A large winter storm is on the horizon for Denver, so I will likely not be posting additional fishing reports for a bit.

Fish Landed: 0