Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM
Location: National Forest
Note: In order to protect small high country streams, I have chosen to change the name for a few. This particular creek happens to be one of them. Excessive exposure could lead to crowding and lower fish densities.
The last time I fished this creek was on 11/08/2019, and although I did not do well on a late fall visit, I yearned for another adventure. Tuesday, August 22, 2023 was the opportunity I desired.
I made the morning drive and arrived at my destination by 10:30AM. Weather forecasts stressed upper nineties in Denver and eighties at my chosen fishing location, but gray clouds dominated the sky, as I prepared to fish. I even felt a brief drizzle, and the temperature was a comfortable 68 degrees. I chose my Loomis two piece five weight, as I expected to toss dries and dry/dropper rigs, and the slower action of the Loomis is well suited to that type of casting.
I started my activity tracker and hiked for .5 mile, before I cut to the creek. The small stream suffered from turbidity, but I was able to see the creek bed in most locations, so I assumed that the murkiness would not be an impediment to catching trout. In order to minimize false casting in the small creek with an abundant quantity of overhanging bushes and branches, I knotted a classic Chernobyl ant to my line. The all foam fly is perfect for small stream dapping and roll casting. I began prospecting the likely deep holes and pools, as I moved upstream, but the Chernobyl was treated like inert flotsam. I never spotted a look, refusal, or take; and this was highly unusual for this normally productive creek. Could the off colored flows be impacting the feeding behavior of the trout?
Thoughts of moving to another stream to salvage the day crossed my mind, but before making such a rash move, I decided to try a different tactic. I replaced the Chernobyl ant with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, and then I dangled a size 12 prince nymph from the hook bend. This change in approach paid dividends, as I landed three brown trout, and the first two were gorgeous fish in the thirteen and fourteen inch range. The fish drought was a historical circumstance, and I now had confidence that the creek contained a population of trout.
I paused for lunch at 11:45AM, and after my brief snack I resumed my upstream migration. By now I learned that dropping casts into marginal spots was a waste of time, as all my success resulted from deep and long pools and runs. In other words, I began to be more focused in my choice of targets, and I concentrated on the prime locations. It also seemed that my pace of action accelerated in the sections that were more distant from easy access off the hiking trail, and this made sense given my aversion to fishing close to roads, trails and parking lots.
After some continued success in the post lunch time frame, I encountered a stunning wide and deep pool, but my coverage of the pool prompted only a brief hook up with a small trout. I was convinced that more fish were present, so I added a salvation nymph beneath the prince. Once again the change brought positive results, as I hooked and landed a spectacular fourteen inch rainbow trout. The stripe along the side was a bright and wide crimson. I was certain that this was the largest rainbow I ever caught in this mountain stream.
The remainder of the afternoon allowed me to mount the fish count to twelve, and browns were the dominant species. The salvation nymph began to account for more fish than the prince nymph, and one aggressive brown trout slammed the fat Albert. Some dark clouds rolled across the sky, and the temperature cooled, and I weathered a brief shower. I approached a very attractive set of pools at 3PM, and I landed a nice brown from the shelf pool on the right hand side. The three fly combination got tangled in the process of landing the fish, and it took me an extended period of time to unravel the mess. Once I was prepared to cast, I dumped the fat Albert and trailers into a frothy seam, where the creek angled toward the opposite shore. The fat Albert bobbed in tantalizing fashion in the froth, and suddenly it disappeared. I was uncertain whether it was sucked under by the unruly currents, or whether a hungry fish was responsible, so I executed a quick hook set. Instantly I felt the weight of a thrashing fish, but as it moved away toward the opposite shore, my line went limp. The heavier than average combatant broke off the fat Albert and all the trailing flies! Not only did I lose a prize fish, but I lost three flies, and I was forced to redo my entire set up.
I continued fishing for another thirty minutes, but then the rain became denser, so I retreated under some trees for shelter. I was reluctant to remove my frontpack and backpack to retrieve my raincoat, because I was near the end of the day. In fact, I scanned the right shoreline, and I grew concerned about climbing the steep bank to gain access to the hiking trail, so I hooked my flies to the rod guide and waded downstream a short distance to a spot that was reasonably clear of dense bushes.
Tuesday was a fun day. I was reassured of the condition of the creek after landing twelve trout in a little over four hours. I feel like hiking farther would yield better results in the future; however, advancing through the cascades, waterfalls and narrow chutes would be even more of a challenge with deeper penetration into the national forest. The size of the brown trout and the single rainbow was a welcome discovery, and this only added to my desire to explore the creek farther in a future visit. I am not sure whether the turbidity was a positive or negative.
Fish Landed: 12