Category Archives: Fishing Reports

Fishing Reports

South Platte River – 03/14/2023

Time: 11:15AM – 3:15PM

Location: Deckers

South Platte River 03/14/2023 Photo Album

How can a river be crowded, yet not allow me to catch a single fish? Did the other anglers experience more success?

The weather forecast predicted another brief temperature spike in the sixties in Denver, so I made plans for a second day of fishing in the 2023 season. I considered the Arkansas River, the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and the South Platte River at Deckers. Because Deckers represented a shorter drive, and the air temperatures were moderately higher than Eleven Mile, I made Deckers my choice.

With the time change on Sunday, the temperature took longer to rise to comfortable levels, so I took my time on Tuesday morning and did not depart until 9:30AM. This enabled me to arrive at my chosen destination by 11AM, and I was on the river fishing by 11:15AM. I was surprised at the number of vehicles occupying the pullouts along the river, and fishermen were spaced out for the entire distance, before I stopped.


The air temperature was in the low fifties when I began, so I wore my light down coat, my raincoat, and my billed hat with ear flaps. The river was flowing along at 182 CFS, and the clarity was perfect. I began below the downstream border of the special regulation section, but I encountered two fishermen near the ninety degree bend, and circled around them, until I was in the section, where the river flowed from east to west. I explored a short thirty yard length, before another young angler cut in above me. I glanced at my watch and noted that it was nearly noon, so I climbed the bank and returned to my car for lunch.

Angler Cut in Right Above Me

During the forty-five minute morning fishing session, I deployed an indicator and split shot rig. Initially I used an apricot otter egg and zebra midge, and after a lack of success I switched to a San Juan worm and salad spinner. None of these flies provoked action, and I spotted only one twelve inch fish, as it darted from cover along the bank, as I approached the river.

After lunch I moved downstream to three sections outside the special regulation area, and I failed to land a single fish. I stuck with the indicator and split shot at the first and second spots, but I swapped the San Juan worm for a salvation nymph, and I modified the end fly from the midge pupa to a classic RS2. This combination was ignored as consistently as the first two pairings.

Nice Deep Run

The third afternoon stop featured a series of nice pockets that bordered the western bank, so I elected to change my approach to a dry/dropper method. I removed the indicator and split shot and substituted a size 8 yellow fat Albert, but I retained the salvation nymph and RS2. I hoped that the three fly combination would attract interest in the small bankside pools and runs of moderate depth. The strategy never attracted so much as a look or refusal, but I persisted with it at my last stop.

Fourth Spot

My confidence in the last two hours of fishing was rock bottom, and I rarely feel as futile, as I did on Tuesday. I saw no insects nor was I able to spot a single trout in spite of nearly ideal visibility. Several times I paused on the high bank along the road to scan deep troughs and pools, but I never spotted the outline or shadow of a fish.

A Favorite Pool Failed Me

By 3:15PM I could no longer contain my boredom, so I stripped in my line and returned to the car. I never saw another angler landing a fish, although I was focused primarily on my own pursuit of trout and did not pay much attention to others. Some adverse weather is predicted for Wednesday, so I will pause my fly fishing for a bit, until more spring-like weather returns. I suspect I made the wrong choice for my destination on Tuesday in favor of mild temperatures and a shorter drive. In spite of the lack of fish, the weather was delightful, and I was present in a beautiful locale.

Fish Landed: 0


North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 03/10/2023

Time: 11:15AM – 2:30PM

Location: Buttonrock Preserve

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek 03/10/2023 Photo Album

January, February and March have been consistently cold months during the winter of 2023, and I anxiously awaited a break that would enable me to visit a local stream to kick off the new season. When I checked the high temperatures in Denver for Friday, March 10, I noted sixty-one degrees, so I immediately checked some towns near Front Range streams. This process led me to Lyons, CO with a high of 59, so I decided to initiate my season on the North Fork of the St. Vrain northwest of Lyons. A quick check of the flows revealed 20 CFS, and although this was on the low side, I decided to give it a go. My history with opening days was not good, so I set my expectations low for Friday.

I arrived at the nearly vacant and muddy parking lot at 10AM, and the temperature on the dashboard registered thirty-two degrees. I was skeptical that 59 was attainable, but even more problematic was the gusting wind that sent chills down my spine, as I exited the car to gear up for my first day of fly fishing. I quickly pulled on my fleece hoodie and North Fork light down and then added my raincoat as a windbreaker. My bag yielded a New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps, and I searched through the fishing bag for my woolen fingerless gloves. This was evidently winter fishing and not the warm spring outing that I anticipated. My new Redington waders barely slid over my bulky layers, and when I slipped on my new backpack and front pack, I realized that the straps needed significant adjustment. By the time I had everything tuned up, my hands were stinging from the cold and wind, so I jumped back in the car and turned on the engine and listened to some sports talk for ten minutes.

Deep Pool

Finally my hands were back to normal, so I tugged on my fingerless gloves and snapped on my front pack and backpack and assembled my newly repaired Sage four weight and began my hike on the dirt road that follows the creek. By 11:15 I arrived at my favorite starting point, and I was sheltered to some degree in the canyon, although the wind remained a nuisance throughout the day. I began with a size 8 yellow fat Albert and added a three foot dropper with a beadhead hares ear nymph, and these were my flies of choice for the 45 minute morning session prior to breaking for lunch at noon. The late morning creek exploration failed to yield a single landed trout, although a fairly nice fish crushed the fat Albert and immediately cleared the surface, before it shed the hook and escaped to freedom.

Looks Promising

After lunch I exchanged the hares ear for a green and black Pat’s rubberleg in order to gain more depth, but the stonefly imitation was not on the menu. In the 45 minutes after lunch I prospected with the rubberlegs, bright green go2 caddis pupa, and ultra zug bug, but the subsurface offerings failed to interest the stream residents. I did, however, manage to hook and land a ravenous nine inch rainbow that slurped the yellow fat Albert, and I celebrated my first fish of the year. Unfortunately the little fighter wrapped the trailing rubberlegs and caddis pupa in an ugly snarl, and I spent five minutes untangling the mess.

First Trout of 2023

By 1:30PM I approached a gorgeous long smooth pool with several swirling current seams, and before I could make a cast with the dry/dropper, I noticed a series of sipping rises. What could be bringing these trout to the surface? I decided to take advantage of the unexpected early season surface feeding, and I removed the nymphs and fat Albert and tied a size 24 CDC BWO to my leader. I spent ten minutes spraying casts to all the locales that revealed sipping trout, but the tiny mayfly imitation was soundly ignored. Were the fish eating small black stoneflies? I encountered them previously on this section of stream, so I knotted a size22 black bug to my line with a swept back poly wing. The move did not pay off. The flurry of rises seemed to follow strong gusts of wind, so I guessed that perhaps ants were blown from the trees into the creek. I stripped in my line and replaced the black stonefly with an olive size 16 deer hair caddis and then added a parachute black ant on an eight inch dropper. Some excellent drifts with the visible double dries were met with total disregard, so I returned to the dry/dropper that produced my only trout.

Nice Pool

For the next hour until I quit at 2:30PM I prospected upstream with a size 14 peacock body hippie stomper, ultra zug bug and size 20 BWO soft hackle emerger. After a reasonable trial period the emerger got stuck in my frontpack mesh, and I bent it in the process of removing, so I replaced it with a size 20 sparkle wing RS2. One refusal to the hippie stomper was the extent of my action on the dry/dropper combination, so I hooked the RS2 to the rod guide at 2:30PM and retreated to the car. The sky was partly cloudy, and the wind continued to howl, as I tramped back along the road to the mud bound Santa Fe.

One fish in nearly three hours of fishing was not a stellar outing, but I was, nonetheless, pleased to land a rainbow in order to initiate the fish count for 2023. The cold and wind provided significant hurdles to success on Friday, although I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a brief hatch. I also broke in and adjusted new equipment, and that should prepare me for future fly fishing ventures. I am rooting for you, spring.

Fish Landed: 1

2022 Top Ten – 01/09/2023

During 2022 I landed 928 trout during 63 days of fly fishing. I go into every year with the goal of landing one thousand fish, and I came up short, so that aspect of the year is somewhat disappointing. Despite this shortcoming I landed fish at a higher rate per hour, so my fly fishing time became more efficient. Despite my proclivity for counting fish, the real reason for my passion for this sport is discovering new places, solving problems, and continuing to evolve as a fly angler, and I feel that I accomplished those objectives in 2022. Below I offer my take on my top ten fly fishing outings of 2022.

Lunch Pool and Eddy

10. South Fork of the Rio Grande River – 06/21/2022 –  This was my first visit to the South Fork, and discovering a new and productive stream always counts for a lot, when I do these rankings. I landed twenty fish in five hours of fishing on a gorgeous first day of summer. A pale morning dun spinner fall was a highlight of the day, and it motivated me to cut short my lunch. A light winter snow pack in the Rio Grande drainage enabled nearly perfect stream conditions during the second half of June. The size of the fish was average with the largest measuring thirteen inches, but discovering a new stream counted for a lot in my assessment.

9. Arkansas River – 07/12/2022 – This was my second float trip of the summer, and the results were excellent. We drifted the Arkansas River in the area below Brown’s Canyon, and the action was steady all day. Most of my landed trout came to a rusty dun/spinner or a pheasant tail nymph, as pale morning duns were apparently the main food source in early July. The trout were nearly all browns, and from a size perspective, quite a few fell in the thirteen to fourteen inch range.

Oversized Tail

8. Elk River – 08/09/2022 – A hippie stomper and beadhead hares ear nymph did the heavy lifting on this venture to a high country stream in Colorado. I expected colorful, wild cutthroats, and I was not disappointed, but I was surprised by a strong population of brown trout displaying larger than anticipated size in this small stream environment. I started early and quit early due to high air temperatures, and this allowed me to land 25 trout, before the stream temperatures elevated.

7. South Boulder Creek – 08/03/2022 – This was my first outing with my new Sage R8 four weight, and I had my license checked in the parking lot, but these were secondary events compared to the wonderful day of fly fishing. I fished a green drake dry fly from 10:15AM until 4:00PM, and this tactic rewarded me with 48 trout landed! I also discovered that the trout of South Boulder Creek prefer parachute green drakes with poly wings and moose mane tails. This will be good to remember for 2023; however, I also need to remind myself that change is constant in the fly fishing world.

6. Roaring Fork River – 06/29/2022 – I love the Roaring Fork River, and a day like 06/29/2022 reinforced that sentiment. This was my first guided float trip of the 2022 season, and it was well worth the commitment. High but clear river flows and cool overcast weather provided favorable conditions for a float trip, and the cooperative fish made the entire adventure a significant win. We tossed double dries all day long, and I landed 22 mostly bank feeders during our time on the river. The purple haze was the star of the show, and many of the trout were heavyweight fighters in the fourteen to eighteen inch range. Very rewarding.

Wow. Great Stripe and Speckles

5. Arkansas River – 06/27/2022 – It had been a long time since I experienced a banner day on the Arkansas River, but this day proved to be such an outing. The flows were 1100 CFS and the river was murky, but these conditions proved to be ideal for duping strong and physical trout from the Arkansas River. This was also the best day I ever logged using Pat’s rubber legs, as the trout gobbled the black and olive chenille, as it tumbled along in my dry/dropper rig. Twenty-nine trout visited my net, and many were in the twelve to fifteen inch range.

4. South Platte River – 04/27/2022 – A long lasting blue winged olive hatch elevated this day to the number four in 2022. The olives came in waves, as the skies darkened periodically. The conditions for blue winged olives were perfect. I landed twenty-five fine trout, and twenty-three sipped my blue winged olive dry flies. I landed six picky feeders at the shallow tail of a major pool at the end of the day, and these fish were all robust wild fish in the thirteen to sixteen inch range. What a way to end a successful day!


3. Elk Creek – 09/02/2022 – This was a particularly gratifying day. This creek was a relatively small high country gem that my daughter and I scouted with a hike during the previous day. During our hike the creek bubbled along at a low level, and it was extremely clear. I never spotted a fish during our entire walk, so I was fairly intimidated, as I approached the waterway once again the next day. Stealth, long casts and light flies paid dividends, and I managed to catch and release thirty-four trout, mostly browns, before I called it quits. Some larger than expected fish were in the mix, and the peacock hippie stomper and salvation nymph accounted for most of the fish.

No Fish, But a Great Swimming Hole

2. South Boulder Creek – 08/12/2022 – How could a fifty-two fish day end up ranked number two? You will need to read number one to answer this question. The reader will note that South Boulder Creek already checked in at number seven, so a second top ten ranking is quite impressive for the small Front Range tailwater. The poly wing parachute green drake with a moose mane tail was irresistible, and nearly all the landed fish fell to its attraction. The largest fish was probably thirteen inches, but the quantity of fish more than made up for size. It is hard to beat a day spent casting a large solitary dry fly to likely fish holding spots resulting in positive responses a significant proportion of the time.

First Poly Wing Parachute Green Drake

1.North Fork of the White River – 09/14/2022 – This day in the Flattops represented the highest number of fish landed in one day in my entire career of fly fishing, sixty-three. It would be easy to cite this fact as the reason for the number one ranking, but the experience goes beyond numbers.  The beauty of these fish was nearly indescribable. The brook trout displayed brilliant orange bellies, while the cutbows and cutthroats exhibited dense speckles and pastel background hues accented by vivid scarlet stripes and slashes. All the fish were wild, and quite a few exceeded expectations for the small size of the North Fork. The larger cutbows and cutthroats were terrific pound for pound battlers. When can I go back?

Fat and Orange Like a Pumpkin

Proud Release



Go2 Caddis Pupa – 11/20/2022

Go2 Caddis Pupa 11/20/2022 Photo Albums

I replenished my supply of bright green Go2 sparkle caddis pupa with five new models. The go2 sparkle caddis pupa is a hybrid that combines Gary Lafontaine’s emergent bright green caddis pupa with a go2 caddis created by Rick Takahashi. I substituted chartreuse midge diamond braid for the specified bright green antron yarn in the original pattern. Needless to say, I love the flash of the diamond braid for this fly, as it really stands out during the spring grannom emergence.

Zoomed In

For more information follow my 12/19/2021 link and the embedded links there. When I took stock of my holdings of this fly, I concluded that I needed to tie five additional caddis pupa to replenish my inventory to the desired level.

Fish Attractors

South Platte River – 11/08/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Deckers area

South Platte River 11/08/2022 Photo Album

After landing two decent brown trout on soft egg flies on 11/01/2022, I advanced tying egg flies on my winter fly tying schedule, and I produced fifteen 6MM egg flies on size 12 scud hooks. I was unable to locate apricot eggs at the local fly shops, so I used the two that remained in my supply and then produced four chartreuse and nine red/pink versions. Having completed this assignment, I was anxious to test the product of my labors, and with a high temperature forecast in the sixties on Tuesday, November 8; I made the trip to the South Platte River in the Deckers area.

When I arrived, the flows were 127 CFS, and the air temperature advanced to the low sixties. I was very excited to test my new flies, but one negative interfered with otherwise favorable conditions on November 8, and that was wind. The wind gusted continuously throughout my time on the river, and a strong headwind prevailed most of the time. My shoulder and elbow were tired, but hopefully I avoided excessive strain in my efforts to counteract the severe blasts that rolled down the canyon.

Starting Point

I wore my Under Armour long sleeved shirt, my fishing shirt, and a fleece hoodie; and I was comfortable for my entire time on the water. My Sage One five weight was placed into action in order to offset the wind, as it possesses length and stiffness. I marched down to the river and began casting at 11AM; and a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, apricot egg and sparkle wing RS2 were featured in my dry/dropper configuration.

Egg Chomper

I spent three hours and thirty minutes on the river, and I managed to land three trout. The first and best visitor to my net was a nice thirteen inch brown trout, and it responded to my apricot egg. The other two trout were small rainbows in the seven to ten inch range, and they chowed down on the RS2. Yes, it was a slow day on the South Platte River. In addition to the three landed trout I experienced one foul hooked fish and a temporary connection.

There Is the Apricot Egg

At 12:30PM I spotted a few blue winged olives, and I searched for rises in a slow section and noted two. I was reluctant to undertake the time required to switch to a dry fly approach, and I suspect my decision was sound, since the surface activity was extremely sparse and lasted only a short period of time. By 1:45PM I lost confidence, so I swapped the apricot egg for a pink/red translucent version, but the move failed to ignite action. At one point I climbed the bank, and as I strode along the road, I noticed two fish in a trough between some aquatic vegetation. I carefully maneuvered down the bank and placed five or six casts through the trough, but the fish ignored my offerings, and I moved on in frustration.

Area That Produced

In two separate locations I spotted a cluster of spawning fish, as they swam in circles and attempted to gain prime positions for reproduction. I never witnessed this activity on November 1, so perhaps my timing overlapped with spawning to a greater degree and perhaps this impacted my slow catch rate.

End of Day Shot

By 2:30PM I was bored out of my mind, so I climbed a six foot bank and hiked back along the road for .5 mile. The wind was my enemy, and I could not convince myself to continue the battle given the largely futile fishing conditions. I took solace in the fact that I was outdoors in beautiful surroundings, and I avoided a skunking with three trout including a respectable brown that responded to my egg fly. The weather will dictate whether this was my last day of the season, so I will continue to follow the long range forecast.

Fish Landed: 3

Big Thompson River – 10/19/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: The canyon below Estes Park

Big Thompson River 10/19/2022 Photo Album

Admittedly I was very excited to watch game two of the NLCS between the Phillies and Padres, and this may have distracted me from fly fishing. The Phillies have been my favorite team since my early childhood. I can remember sneaking my transistor radio into bed with me and listening to the woeful Phillies of the early sixties, when I was supposed to be sleeping. On the other hand my day of fishing on the Big Thompson River is probably better explained by the lack of insect activity and the bright blue sky that yielded pleasant autumn weather for the fisherman, but not much insect activity for the fish.

I chose the Big Thompson, because it represents a relatively short drive from Denver, and the flows were adjusted downward to 45 CFS three days ago. I favor Big Thompson flows in the 50 – 100 CFS range, and 45 CFS was close to the bottom. I used to believe the Big T harbored a fairly high ratio of rainbow trout, but fishing experiences since the big flood of 2013 have caused me to reconsider that opinion. At any rate I was looking for a higher proportion of rainbow trout over brown trout to offset the spawning effect, and I felt the Big Thompson had more bows than other Front Range options.

Perfect Riffle Water

I made the drive to the canyon below Estes Park without incident, and the air temperature was 51 degrees, as I rigged my Loomis two piece five weight and prepared to fish. My starting point featured a long and wide, slow-moving section, so I knotted an olive-brown size 16 deer hair caddis to my line and began making long upstream casts. I covered the entire thirty yard stretch with one refusal to show for my efforts, and then I adjusted my approach to an olive body hippie stomper and retained the caddis on a one foot dropper. Once again the trout gave my choices a resounding rejection.

The water type shifted to faster runs and pockets around exposed boulders, so I once again made a change, and this time I opted for a tan size 8 pool toy hopper with a beadhead hares ear trailer and a zebra midge. A solid fifteen minutes of prospecting with the dry/dropper failed to ignite the interest of the fish, and I exchanged the zebra midge for a size 22 olive bead. This fly is as basic as it gets with a silver bead and an olive thread body. The trout rejected this combination, and as noon rapidly approached, I once again swapped the olive bead fly for a sparkle wing RS2. Finally in a deep pocket a barely six inch brown trout nipped the RS2, and I was on the scoreboard with one trout. The first hour of fishing was very inauspicious.

Since I was near the car at noon, I climbed the boulder strewn bank and ambled back to the Santa Fe. I threw my gear in the back of the car and drove downstream for a couple miles before I parked in a pullout facing west. The portion of the canyon that I planned to fish after lunch ran tight to steep canyon walls, and I was fearful that I would be forced to fish in the chilly shadows. I debated traveling farther down the river to a point that was more open, but I decided to remain, because I remembered some nice pools in the area, in case blue winged olives made an appearance.

Beauty over Size

I retained the three fly system that included the pool toy hopper, hares ear and RS2 for the next 1.5 hour, and I was rewarded with frustration and one very pretty ten inch rainbow trout that nabbed the RS2 in a small eddy downstream from a large bankside boulder. Along the way I swapped the hares ear for an ultra zug bug, in case the rainbow trout desired more flash, but this idea failed to turn around my fortunes. By 1:45PM I arrived at a long wide riffle that spanned the entire river, and I was certain that this was prime dry fly water. I removed the dry/dropper and revived the olive hippie stomper with a size 16 gray deer hair caddis. A couple refusals reinforced the idea that the trout were tuned into the surface, and eventually I found a taker in the form of a ten inch brown trout.

Eager Brown Trout

I continued upstream for another fifty yards, and the hippie stomper and caddis attracted a bit of additional attention in the form of refusals and a temporary hook up, but the action was very sporadic, and I never saw signs of a BWO hatch or insect activity of any form. Toward the end of this period I exchanged the caddis for a size 22 CDC BWO in case the trout were looking for upright wings, but that move proved as futile as my others. By 2:20PM my mind was preoccupied with the baseball playoffs and bored with fishing, so I climbed the bank and meandered back to the car.

A three fish day in 3.5 hours was rather pathetic, however, the weather was outstanding and the scenery and drive were spectacular. I listened to the Phils take a lead on the return drive, but once I got home, they unraveled and stumbled to an 8-5 trouncing. Oh well, they won game one and return to Philadelphia with a split of their away games. I still like their chances.

Fish Landed: 3

Eagle River – 10/18/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Private club water near Eagle, CO

Eagle River 10/18/2022 Photo Album

My friend, Dave, invited me to join him on some private water on the Eagle River on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, and I readily accepted. I fished this same stretch in late June prior to one of our float trips, and I knew it was quality water that contained a high ratio of rainbow trout. As you may know, I am constantly seeking rainbow trout water in the fall, while the brown trout are mostly preoccupied with spawning.

I arrived at Dave’s house in Eagle Ranch at 10:15AM, and we were on the water by 11:00AM. It was 44 degrees, as we hiked down a path to the river, and I wore my North Face light down coat in the morning, but the bright sun warmed the air up rather quickly. As I’m still waiting for my Sage One five weight fly rod to be repaired (shipped to Far Bank in late June), I used the Scott five weight that Dave G. loaned me. I crossed the river at a low, wide spot, and Dave and I worked up the river in parallel until 1:00PM, when we returned to our cars for lunch.

Low and Clear

To say that the morning was frustrating would be an understatement. I began fishing with a size 8 amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl, beadhead hares ear and RS2; and after twenty minutes of focused fishing in some very attractive sections, I had nothing to show for my efforts. Dave G., meanwhile was connecting on a fairly regular basis. Dave G. showed me his lineup before we began, and it consisted of a tiny olive beadhead midge larva and a zebra midge. Since he was experiencing steady success, I decided to copy him, and I swapped the RS2 for an olive-colored perdigon fly. This change increased my contact with trout, but it also raised my frustration level significantly. In a nice deep pocket between some exposed boulders, a twelve inch rainbow trout smacked the chubby Chernboyl, and I was on the scoreboard with my first fish; but the remainder of the morning and early afternoon tortured me with seven straight long distance releases. The fish were grabbing the perdigon, but for some reason they were consistently able to shake free from the tiny fly weighted with a tungsten bead. I inspected the fly several times, and it was a small curved scud hook with a wide gap, and the point seemed sound.

Dave G. Concentrating on His Fly

After lunch we hiked downstream to one of the most attractive pools that I ever encountered on the Eagle River. It was wide and deep with a strong center current that fanned out to create a very long and wide slower moving area. It was an obvious fish gathering spot, and Dave offered me the top of the pool. I carefully observed, and I was surprised to see quite a few subtle rises along the slower moving shelf area, so I took the time to remove the dry/dropper configuration, and I switched to a single size 22 CDC blue winged olive. Initially the tiny speck of a fly provoked several refusals, but when I shifted to some fish directly above me, I managed to land two rainbows in the seven inch range. Dave, meanwhile, continued to net larger fish on the midge larva at the tail of the pool.

Only Brown Trout on the Day

Given his success rate with subsurface offerings, I decided to change my approach, but before going deep, I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line along with the CDC BWO on an eight inch dropper. This double dry combination was largely ignored, although I did manage a temporary hookup with an above average fish on the trailing olive. Finally I gave up on dry flies and reverted to the dry/dropper with the chubby Chernobyl, a zebra midge and a classic RS2. For the remainder of the afternoon, I prospected all the likely fish producing locales with this threesome, and I built the fish count from three to ten. Of the ten landed fish, seven were rainbows in the seven to nine inch range, one was a medium sized brown trout, and two were chunky rainbows in the fifteen inch range. All of the afternoon trout snatched the RS2 from the drift. The fat fifteen inch beast materialized in a relatively obscure deep and short trough between some bank boulders and very fast white water. This fish grabbed the RS2, after I disturbed the same small pocket while playing a rainbow of similar proportions just prior to landing my prize, but the earlier catch avoided my net by shedding the hook.

Quite a Chunk

Ten fish in late October was a respectable day, but had I converted at least 50% of my temporary connections, I would have experienced an exceptional day. I’m not sure why the perdigon resulted in so many long distance releases, but I plan to use a few of the others that I tied over the winter. I told Dave that I would welcome another invitation to the private stretch in order to atone for my low batting average, and he agreed to another outing, should the fall weather cooperate. Snow is predicted for the weekend in Denver, so a short break from fishing may be in the near future.

Fish Landed: 10

Clear Creek – 10/12/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 10/12/2022 Photo Album

I was certain that the stars and planets were aligned for an autumn fishing trip to South Boulder Creek. Readers of this blog may recall that I embarked on a trip to South Boulder Creek on 10/03/2022, but it was suddenly aborted, when I encountered a digital display sign that announced that Gross Dam Road was closed, and this forced me to pivot to the Big Thompson River for a day of fishing.  Subsequent to that frustration, I made a phone call to Denver Water and eventually learned of a web site with a map that informed the public of days when Gross Dam Road was closed. In addition one of the readers of this blog sent me a link to the same web page.

The closure schedule indicated that the road was closed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday during the week of October 10, so I built my fishing plans around this information and made South Boulder Creek my destination on Wednesday. I checked the flows, and the DWR graph depicted volumes of 89 CFS, and this was very favorable from my perspective. The weather was also a positive with high temperatures of 59 degrees in nearby Pinecliffe, CO. My historic blog posts established that I had some very successful days around the same time on South Boulder Creek in previous years. In short, I was quite excited to finally make a return trip to South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir.

I departed Denver by 8:30AM, and this allowed me to reach the turn off to Crescent Meadows by 9:15AM, and guess what greeted me? The same irksome sign that stopped me on 10/03/2022, and once again it announced that Gross Dam Road was closed on 10/12 and 10/13. Needless to say I was steamed. I decided to persist with my route in case the web site information was accurate, and the person that posted the sign made a typographical error. After a few minutes on upper Gross Dam Road I reached Crescent Meadows parking lot, and sure enough a young man blocked farther progress with a stop sign. I parked in the lot and walked over to the poor unsuspecting worker and expressed my anger with the disconnect between the web site information and the local road closure decision. Of course he was not responsible, but he did offer to pass along my frustration to his supervisors. I, likewise, planned to make another call to Denver Water, although I fear I the weather may never allow me to attempt another trip to South Boulder Creek in 2022.

What should I do now? I considered driving to the Big Thompson River, but after making the drive to Lake George on Tuesday, I was averse to extending my trip once again. I considered other options and temporarily decided to make the southward journey to the South Platte River at Deckers; however, when I stopped in cell phone range near Golden to map directions, I first checked the stream flows. The water managers apparently opened the taps, because the CFS reading was 430. I was reluctant to attempt to fish at those high levels in the fall, so I gave up on that idea and defaulted to the relatively nearby Clear Creek in the canyon.

Rolling Along

Clear Creek is generally my least favorite front range destination; as the fish are small, they are surprisingly difficult to catch, and brown trout comprise at least 80% of the population. One of my criteria for October fishing is streams with a higher ratio of rainbow trout, and Clear Creek does not meet that guideline. At any rate I found myself at the tailgate of my Santa Fe preparing to fish in Clear Creek by 10:50AM on Wednesday. I fitted together my Loomis two piece five weight and slipped on my raincoat, since the temperature was sixty degrees but felt cooler due to a constant breeze that changed into strong gusts on a fairly frequent basis. I carefully maneuvered myself to the edge of the stream and began my upstream progression at 11:00AM. I began with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, a size 14 prince nymph, and a size 16 salvation nymph.

Number Three

Catching Some Leaf Change

I covered a substantial distance and probed all the likely spots for thirty minutes with no response from the trout. I was starting to fume over my lousy luck, but eventually I calmed down and decided to reconfigure my offerings. I extended the leader from the hopper to the first fly to gain more depth, and then I replaced the prince with a size 12 weighted 20 incher to enable a faster sink rate while leaving the salvation in place. This move paid dividends, as I landed a spunky eleven inch rainbow and a six inch brown trout before I broke for lunch. The rainbow chomped the 20 incher, and the brown trout favored the salvation.

Pretty Little Trout

Very Attractive Section

I pretty much stayed with the same three fly combination for the remainder of my time and built the fish count to eight, before I quit at 2:30PM. There was a period, after I was forced to break off the 20 incher and salvation, when I substituted an ultra zug bug and pheasant tail for the salvation, but the substitute nymphs never delivered, and I reverted to the salvation. My catch rate seemed to improve toward the end of my upstream movement, and I netted an eleven inch rainbow and a thirteen inch brown trout. A brown of that size is a trophy in Clear Creek. I suspect the improved catch rate was attributable to a combination of reasons that included warming water temperature due to the sun’s penetration, a narrower streambed which created more depth and better structure, and less pressure because of limited parking and a steep bank next to the road.

Beast of the Day

At any rate I salvaged an eight fish day on Clear Creek, and I fished for 3.5 hours including my lunch time. The trout were small and picky, as is usually the case, and the wind was quite adverse. I was forced to drive my casts into the wind most of the day, and this action was very tiring to my elbow and shoulder. I was actually quite pleased to net eight fish under the challenging conditions, but Wednesday was not the day I envisioned, when I departed from home at 8:30AM.

Fish Landed: 8

South Platte River – 10/11/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 5:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/11/2022 Photo Album

Another nice fall day was in the forecast for Tuesday, October 11, so I decided to take advantage with a fishing day trip. I checked a report on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and the mention of tricos and blue winged olives sealed the deal. I made the drive to a favorite pullout along the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and a check of the dashboard thermometer revealed an air temperature of 53 degrees at 10:35AM. I elected to pull on my light down coat, and I rigged my Sage R8 four weight, before I departed and hiked .3 mile up the dirt road to a place, where a manageable angled trail allowed me to safely descend to the river. The river was rushing along at 134 CFS, and that was a bit higher than what I am used to, but clarity was excellent, and wading was conducive to moving along the river with relative ease.

Promising Spot

The air was devoid of any insect activity, so I began my day with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, 20 incher and hares ear nymph, and within the first thirty minutes I landed an eight inch rainbow and foul hooked another. Before I stopped for lunch at noon, I added a second small rainbow, after I swapped the hares ear for a sparkle wing RS2. The morning session included some prime pools and runs, so I was somewhat disappointed with the deep nymphing effectiveness. I ate my lunch overlooking my favorite long, smooth pool, which was occupied by a young female angler. She was flinging a nymph rig as well with an orange strike indicator, and she landed a respectable fish, as I looked on.

Brawling Eleven Mile Canyon

After lunch I changed my approach to a single CDC BWO, and the move paid off quickly, when an eleven inch brown rose to sip the tiny olive mayfly imitation. Just above the place where I landed the brown, I sighted some nice trout, and they were rising to something miniscule. I dwelled at that one small eddy far too long, as I attempted to interest three fish in my CDC BWO, but they were having none of it, even though they rose to naturals sporadically around my fly. I finally admitted defeat and moved upstream through some pockets, where I added another small rainbow to the count.

Solid Brown Trout 2

My next stop was the nice pool next to some large boulders with vertical walls along the river, and here I converted to a peacock hippie stomper trailing a CDC olive: but, surprisingly, I never saw a rise in this area nor did the trout exhibit any inclination to eat my fly. A father and son team occupied the large bend pool, so I circled around them and moved fairly quickly to the long smooth pool that exists along the east bank below the entrance to the first of a series of tunnels.

Scanning for Rises

Red, Pink, Tan

Started a Trend

Almost immediately I spotted a pair of rises at the extreme downstream end of the long pool, so I lobbed some casts across and down, and checked my cast high to create a soft landing and a bit of slack. On the fourth such drift, a small but fat brown trout smacked the CDC BWO. This fish was oddly shaped, as if it was moving toward a bluegill figure, as it displayed a disproportionate girth for its stubby length. The other trout that showed itself upon my arrival never surfaced again, so I carefully waded toward the midsection. During this phase of my day, small dark clouds periodically blocked the sun, and this generated wind, and the frequency of rises increased. My CDC BWO, however, was ignored, so I spent an inordinate amount of time doing what Deming said not to do. I was repeating my action and expecting different results, and that was a recipe for failure. Finally I began to experiment with different size CDC BWO’s, but again this was not the answer, until I plucked a size 22 Craven soft hackle emerger from my box and applied floatant to fish it in the surface film.

Soft Hackle Emerger

Chrome-like Gill

Right Side Up

What a positive move this turned out to be! I cast across to a slightly riffled spot on the other side of the center current, and a fat sixteen inch rainbow smashed the emerger with confidence. I battled this strong fighter longer than usual, but I rejoiced, when I slid my net beneath the prize. Over the remainder of the afternoon I landed five more trout to boost the fish count to eleven, and the last six fish on the day were all in the thirteen to sixteen inch range with plenty of girth. Two very respectable browns were part of the haul, and the remainder were rainbows including one that nearly matched the sixteen incher. Who knew that a soft hackle emerger fished like a dry fly was the solution to the South Platte River fish feeding puzzle?

Leopard Bow

I had written the day off as a four fish disappointment, and I ended up in double digits with some very respectable fish. Of course there were a few long distance releases and refusals over the five hours of fishing, and I could have easily run the count to fifteen with a better conversion rate. This experience made me wonder what the hatch would be like on a rainy day, or one with heavier cloud cover. I would like to find out, although I might have to endure some fairly chilly temperatures.

Fish Landed: 11

The Drive Back

North Fork of the White River – 10/08/2022

Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Location: Public water upstream from the Ute Lodge

North Fork of the White River 10/08/2022 Photo Album

Jane, Amy, Chara and I completed a 6.5 mile hike to Big Fish Lake between 11:00AM and 2:30PM. The fall foliage remained spectacular, and the trail conditions improved measurably since our arrival on Wednesday. The temperature hovered between 58 degrees and 64 degrees under mostly sunny skies with periodic wind.

Upon our return to the Ute Lodge, I decided to spend some time on the North Fork of the White River. I pulled on my waders at the cabin and then drove to a new section, that I hoped to try as a brief scouting expedition for future September fly fishing trips. I parked next to a two track lane that led to a cattle gate and rigged my new Sage R8 with an amber ice dub chubby Chernobyl. I passed through the gate and closed it behind me and marched along the two-track to a crude bridge. The bridge was decorated with no trespassing signs as was the area to the right, so I inspected the upstream prospects for public fishing. A tight barbed wire fence blocked me from approaching the north side of the river, so I embarked on an unproductive hike along the fence, as I headed upstream. After .3 mile of frustration, I concluded that the White in this area was off limits, even though all the maps depicted the area as public land. I retraced my steps, passed through the gate, and threw my gear in the car and drove a mile upriver.

After a mile I encountered a crude circular turn around that was clearly used by other fishermen, so I quickly climbed back into my gear and circled around some trees and bushes and entered the river. I consumed a bit of time adding a size 12 20 incher 3.5 feet below the chubby Chernobyl, and I began prospecting the most attractive spots, of which there were very few. Between 4:00PM and 5:30PM I covered .5 mile of river, and I landed two trout.

Very Pleased With This Catch

The first netted fish was a sixteen inch cutbow, and it was a beauty with a light olive body and understated speckles on the top and along the side. The chunky river resident snatched the 20 incher in a narrow band of deep, slow moving water along the north bank. I was thrilled to coax a wild finned fighter into my net.

A Slow Release

The second trout was a rainbow in the fourteen inch range, and this fish also grabbed the 20 incher and put up a respectable fight. Another fish refused the chubby near the spot where fish number one was landed, and a decent trout elevated to inspect the chubby in the vicinity of trout number two. These two locales were easily the best that I encountered in .5 miles of wading. I bypassed many sections characterized by wide shallow and fast-moving riffles. I did pause at a number of more marginal spots, but I only registered futile casting exercise.

Next to the Barely Visible Rock on the Right Produced

The two robust trout made my 1.5 hour fly fishing outing a clear success. The North Fork in this area is fast moving with limited deep pools and runs, but decent trout can be had by covering a lot of territory.

Fish Landed; 2