Time: 10:00AM – 2:30PM
Location: Boulder Canyon
I committed to playing pickleball at 4PM on Monday, July 25; therefore, my fly fishing venture needed to require a short drive. I reviewed the flows for all the usual suspects; Big Thompson, 125 CFS; Clear Creek, 127 CFS; North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, 55 CFS and Boulder Creek, 84 CFS. Those numbers were derived from my Sunday research. Jane and I attended our grandson, Theo’s, birthday party in Louisville, CO on Sunday; and while there, dark clouds rolled in and showers commenced. I had already made my choice of Boulder Creek for fishing, but apparently a significant amount of rain fell on Sunday evening, because the DWR chart depicted a spike from 84 CFS to 141 CFS at 9PM on Sunday. On Monday morning, as I prepared to depart, I checked the chart again, and the flows on Boulder Creek were down to 117 CFS. Because I needed to be in south Denver by four o’clock, I decided to begin my fly fishing day on Boulder Creek. If the water was off color or too high, I could continue on to the North Fork of the St. Vrain, although that move would cut into my fishing time significantly, since I generally hike for at least thirty minutes to and from my favorite section.
When I caught my first glimpse of Boulder Creek in the city of Boulder, it was clear, but I was unable to ascertain whether the stream level would make wading and fishing difficult. Once I parked along the creek at my chosen starting point, I concluded that Boulder Creek was my destination, or at least I would sample it before entertaining alternatives. I assembled my Sage four weight in response to the higher flows and angled down to the creek to begin my Monday adventure. The flows were indeed higher than normal, and when I checked the DWR web site upon my return, I was informed that the creek ran in the low 100 CFS range during my time on the water. The sky was mostly clear with periodic large clouds, but by the early afternoon, the temperature elevated to the upper seventies, and I was quite warm.
I began my day with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. Initially the hopper was attracting refusals, and the nymphs were ignored, so I swapped the hopper for a medium olive body hippie stomper. The stomper and hares ear were quite popular, and I upped the fish count to eleven by the time that I paused for lunch a few minutes before noon. Of the first eleven fish landed, two slammed the hippie stomper, and the remainder snatched the trailing beadhead hares ear nymph.
Just before lunch I suffered through nearly forty-five minutes of absolute frustration. First, I hooked a small brown trout, and as I played the fish it managed to slip free, and the pent up energy of the rod caused the flies to catapult to an evergreen limb high above me. There was no hope of rescue, so I applied direct pressure and snapped off a hippie stomper and hares ear. After reconfiguring my entire rig, I continued upstream, and I approached a section with some overhanging branches. In my effort to sling a cast under the nuisance branches, I hooked a dead limb high above me. Once again I applied pressure and left the stomper dangling off the dead branch with the hares ear embedded in the bark. I put my rod down and searched for a long pole that would enable me to rescue the flies, and I eventually found an effective tool. It was a long heavy branch with a Y that resembled a large divining rod. I hoisted the log upward and applied direct pressure to the bare stick that stole my flies, and after a few seconds the branch snapped. You can probably guess the outcome. The broken branch fell a yard or so below me in some heavy current, and I was unable to react quickly enough to capture it, as my flies floated away to the Gulf of Mexico. I resigned myself to tying yet another lineup of flies to my line; however, in this case I utilized a size 10 classic Chernobyl ant instead of the hippie stomper.
For most of the remainder of the afternoon I prospected upstream with the Chernobyl and hares ear dry/dropper, and I raised the fish count to seventeen. The catch rate definitely slowed from the morning session, but the results were steady and held my attention. By 1:45 I grew weary of trying to track the small yellow indicator of the Chernobyl in the riffled surface water, so I replaced it with a hopper Juan, and I began to experiment with replacements for the hares ear. First, I knotted a salvation to my line, but by itself it failed to produce. Next I opted for an ultra zug bug as the top fly and experimented with a second nymph; in this case the salvation. The salvation delivered one brown trout, and then the action slowed to a halt.
I recalled that the hippie stomper attracted quite a few refusals, so I reverted to a double dry approach that included a peacock body hippie stomper and size 14 gray stimulator. Just before I quit, I lobbed the double dries to a small shaded nook with a bubble line, and a small brown trout appeared to eat the hippie stomper for number nineteen on the day.
I was pleased to post a nineteen fish day on Monday, July 25, although the largest fish was probably only ten inches long. The bulk of the counted fish were in the six to eight inch range. Nevertheless, I was challenged to cast to the most productive locations and to select the flies that the local feeders would favor. The last hour or so was quite slow, and I was uncertain whether to blame the warm air temperatures and bright sun or the section of stream that tumbled fast due to a higher gradient. I hustled back to the car at 2:30PM, and I managed to complete the drive from Boulder to south Denver in time to join the group of eight for a very vigorous pickleball session.
Fish Landed: 19