Category Archives: Colorado River

Colorado River – 07/24/2020

Time: 7:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Between Kremmling and Dotsero

Colorado River 07/24/2020 Photo Album

On July 7, 2020 I floated the Colorado River with a guide from Cutthroat Anglers, and my friend, Dave G., and I enjoyed a wonderful day. Dave G. scheduled a second trip for July 24, and I agreed to once again join him. Reed Ryan was again our guide. How would my second outing on the middle Colorado compare to my first experience? Read on.

For this adventure I drove to Dave G.’s house and stayed overnight, and this enabled me to be closer to our starting point on Friday morning. As we departed Dave G.’s house, heavy clouds dominated the sky after some significant rain showers. The weather forecast predicted showers in the morning and a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. In short, I anticipated great conditions for fish but a high probability of getting wet for humans.

Dave G under Overcast Skies in the AM

When Dave G. and I arrived at the launch site, the rain stopped, but dark clouds in the western sky portended additional precipitation. With this possibility foremost in my mind I opted to wear my wading socks and wading boots rather than Chacos in order to keep my feet dry and warm. In addition I slid into my rain jacket and stashed some rain paints, that Dave G. loaned me, into the compartment underneath my seat in the driftboat. I strung my Sage One five weight and handed it to Reed, and after some brief preparations the driftboat was bobbing down the river.

Not Another Boat in Sight

The flows were in the 900 CFS range, and the river was very clear. One boat manned by a man, who did not appear be fishing, departed ahead of us; but we essentially had the river to ourselves until noon, when we stopped for lunch. After lunch the canyon came alive with all manner of watercraft and groups of people. The weather was a major contributor to this dichotomy of river traffic, as dense clouds ruled the sky in the morning, while lengthening periods of sunshine arrived after one o’clock.

Similar to our float on July 7, Reed configured our lines with double dry flies for most of the day. I tried a dry/dropper for a short while around mid-morning, and this change in approach delivered one average sized brown trout. Immediately after lunch I deviated in a substantial way from my conventional practice, when I agreed to allocate thirty minutes to streamer fishing. Reed advised that the cloud cover created good streamer conditions, and I was interested in learning new techniques. I only lasted twenty minutes, as my partner Dave G. began to connect with fish in rapid fire fashion. I, meanwhile, registered one very brief tap and a couple follows. Reed did impart some excellent pointers in a very brief amount of time, and I hope to leverage the instruction for increased hours of stripping over the remainder of the season.

Streamer Trial

Interesting Bank

During our previous float I occupied the bow of the boat for our entire trip, so Dave G. held down the front position for most of our time on the river on Friday. At 1:30 his rehabilitated arm and shoulder began to send signs of overuse, so we switched positions, and I enjoyed the bow for the last 1.5 hours. I felt the pressure of being the only active fisherman, but I managed to add five trout to the fish count.

One of My Better Fish

The water was a bit lower than July 7, and in spite of the excellent cloud cover, I sensed that the Colorado River trout were much more wary and deliberate in their pursuit of food. Despite this hindrance I landed seventeen trout during seven hours of fishing. I also missed a significant quantity of fish due to late hook sets, and a fair number of long distance releases were also part of the equation. The opportunity for an even more impressive day was available thanks to Reed. Dave G. also racked up an impressive double digit day.

The average size of my fish was below July 7, but seventeen fish landed from a population of more wary fish that saw an additional two weeks of pressure was exceptional in my opinion. Quite a few of the trout were in the twelve to fifteen inch range, so I do not wish to convey, that I was catching small fish. I also believe that fishing from the rear of the driftboat is a handicap compared to being in the front, so that was another factor impacting my fish count. Over the course of the day we concluded that the most productive locations were bands of moderate depth and medium current velocity near the bank, and we concentrated much of our casting to those places.

Our Guide Said This Was an Eagle

Setting aside the numbers, I once again had a blast on the Colorado River. The scenery was spectacular and the guide was an expert and very adept at maneuvering the boat to our advantage. We fished large visible dry flies to all the attractive spots, and we were steadily rewarded with wild trout. I sampled streamer fishing for a brief period and gained insight into tactics that produce with this alternative approach to fly fishing. Friday, July 24 was an absolute success, and a return trip is a definite, if not this year then certainly 2021.

Fish Landed: 17


Colorado River – 07/07/2020

Time: 7:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Pumphouse to Rancho del Rio

Colorado River 07/07/2020 Photo Album

Tuesday’s float trip on the Colorado River was perfect in so many ways. After eleven weeks of recovery from mitral heart valve repair surgery, it was reassuring to learn that I could cast non-stop from 7:30AM until 3:00PM with minimal rest. The day on the large river was a rigorous test of my elbow, chest and shoulder. And then there was coronavirus. This was the first time since February, that I fished with another angler besides my son, and I was very pleased with the level of caution exercised by my fishing companion, Dave G., and our guide, Reed Ryan. It was fun to fish with a guide and friend after a long absence of social contact. And finally there was the fly fishing, but I’ll relate more about the core purpose of the trip in a bit.

My fishing friend, Dave G., contacted me in May to inquire about my interest in joining him for a guided float trip in early July on the Eagle River. I tentatively agreed, although I conditioned my participation to a recovered shoulder and chest after my surgery, as well as improvement in the always threatening covid conditions. Dave G. made a reservation with Cutthroat Anglers for July 2, and I put the whole idea in the back of my mind. Toward the middle of June I texted Dave G. to inform him that my casting arm was capable of handling a day of fishing from a boat, and he informed me that he re-injured his bicep three weeks after surgery on May 20. He asked if I would be OK with a delay of our trip until July 7, and I readily agreed. I anxiously observed the decline in the flows on the Eagle River during the late June time period, and I grew skeptical that we could float the river at 500 CFS. Sure enough Dave G. contacted me to determine, if I would be OK with a change in plans to the Colorado River. Once again I concurred with the change, and we were set for a day of fishing on Tuesday, July 7. I wade fished the Colorado River at Pumphouse several times in October of previous years, but I never made the trip in July, nor had I ever floated the popular section of the middle Colorado, so I was actually pleased with the agreed upon change in destination.

Dave G. and Reed Getting Prepared

On Monday Dave G. contacted me to say that the guide planned to launch at 7AM, so we could get ahead of the other guides and river traffic. In addition hot temperatures were predicted, so he planned to be on the water early and off, before the water temperatures grew dangerously high. Since Jane and I were driving to Pumphouse from Denver, we woke up at 4:15AM for a 4:30AM departure. This was probably the greatest negative to my fishing outing on July 7. The timing worked out nicely, and we arrived at the parking lot by 6:40AM, and this provided ample time to organize my essentials for the full day float. I slathered my face and hands with sun screen and assembled my Sage One five weight. I wore my tan wading pants, Chacos and fishing shirt, and I slid a buff over my head to serve as a face mask during our river trip. I even remembered to extract my fishing license from my fishing backpack, which was not needed for this outing, since the guide was expected to tie on all the flies and handle the fish.

Dave G. arrived five minutes after us, and then the guide wheeled into the parking lot by 6:55. By 7:30AM we launched, and Dave G. generously assigned me the position in the front of the boat, while he secured the rear. In spite of delaying the trip for five days, Dave G. was still rehabilitating his right arm. He adopted a left handed casting stroke while using his right hand to guide it for accuracy. It reminded me of a modified snap T spey cast. In spite of this innovation he knew that he was limited in what he could do, so he graciously allowed me to command the forward position.

My Mate, Dave G.

Our guide, Reed Ryan, started us out on double dry fly rigs. I had a size twelve bushy caddis that trailed a size 14 parachute mayfly imitation with a maroon body. Reed told us that rusty spinners were present on the river, and the parachute served as an effective imitation. Throughout the day he varied the dry flies, and the front fly included a madam X and hopper. During the afternoon he swapped the maroon parachute fly for a purple haze, and the fish were positively responsive.

Very Acceptable

Looked Promising, but No Luck

We drifted through two canyon sections, and during these brief forays into faster pocket water we switched to dry/dropper rods. Reed had a nine foot Winston rigged with a chubby Chernobyl, yellow stonefly nymph, and a variety of small nymphs that reminded me of pheasant tails. I landed a few fish in the Little Gore Canyon stretch, but the double dry fly rig accounted for most of my fish. During the seven hour float I landed twenty fish, and quite a few were substantial beauties in the fifteen to seventeen inch range. All my landed trout were brown trout; however, I tangled with one very respectable rainbow that managed to escape, just before I gained solid control.

Another Dave Catch Featuring a Purple Haze in the Lip

Very Fine

Around noon we glided below a very attractive wide riffle that was thirty yards wide and forty yards long. The ten feet next to the bank were relatively slow and shallow, and then the river grew faster and deeper as one moved from left to right. Reed announced that we would go to “nose up” mode, and I soon understood the meaning, as he positioned the driftboat facing upstream with the bow closest to the target riffle. I was in the bow, and this meant I had the entire juicy area to myself. Reed spotted a couple fish and guided my casts toward the shallow slower moving area along the left bank, and two spectacular brown trout rose to subtly sip the parachute mayfly. What a thrill to place an accurate cast over the feeding lane and then observe the confident sip of the artificial imitation!

The Inside of the Bends Were Prime

During the afternoon a pair of brown trout in excess of fifteen inches crushed the purple haze, as I cast near the bank and executed long downstream drifts. These experiences also added vivid memories to my mental scrapbook.

A Highlight

By two o’clock the wind kicked up to a ferocious level, and Reed had to row downstream against whitecaps, and Dave G. and I took an extended rest. I nearly lost my hat five times, and it was only saved by the strap and clip, that I had the foresight to attach. During our ten mile float we only saw a couple other inflatable rafts with fishermen, but the river was alive with all manner of water enthusiasts. Whitewater rafters were out in force along with kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders. A spring break party atmosphere pervaded the canyon for much of the day, but we focused on the banks, while the others commanded the center of the very large river.

The Red Rocks Caught My Attention

Tuesday was just what the doctor ordered. I enjoyed magnificent canyon scenery while landing twenty gorgeous fish. The quality of the fish was unsurpassed, as nearly all exceeded twelve inches. The wind and heat were small negatives, but our early start allowed us to record hours of great fishing before the gusts ruined the day. Frankly, I remain in a state of euphoria twenty-four hours after our Pumphouse to Rancho del Rio float trip experience. A repeat trip likely lies in my future.

Fish Landed: 20

Colorado River – 10/24/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Glenwood Canyon

Colorado River 10/24/2018 Photo Album

Several years ago Jane and I completed a bike ride along the entire length of Glenwood Canyon. During this cycling adventure I nearly crashed several times, as I was unable to keep my eyes off the tantalizing water of the Colorado River. Between the power plant and No Name Rest Area, I noted a continuous bank containing large boulders with a steady supply of exposed in-stream rocks and numerous attractive slicks, deep runs, and plunge pools. The area appeared to be very similar to the Arkansas River and exemplified quality brown trout water.

In the intervening years I attempted to verify my suspicions, but various impediments thwarted my efforts to discover the quality of fishing in Glenwood Canyon. Road construction, closed ramps, and murky water were a few of the obstacles that I encountered in my quest to fish the Colorado River in the spectacular canyon setting.

New Fishing Destination for Dave

Finally on October 24, 2018 the factors lined up to create my first opportunity to sample the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. The fly shop reports suggested excellent clarity, and several days of mild weather made an autumn trip possible. I met my friend, Dave Gaboury, for dim sum at the Star Kitchen in Denver, and he invited me to stay at his house in Eagle Ranch on Wednesday and Thursday night. Dave G. had a list of chores to attend to, so he was unable to join me in fishing ventures on Wednesday and Thursday, but a bed thirty minutes away from Glenwood Canyon was too good to refuse.

I departed Denver at 8AM on Wednesday morning, and this enabled me to arrive at my chosen destination in Glenwood Canyon by 11:10AM. The high temperature on Wednesday peaked at sixty degrees, and this translated to substantial chill in the shadows, and when the sun was blocked by clouds. My first view of the river revealed mostly clear water with a tinge of olive.

Deep Spot in Front of Nearly Submerged Large Rock Produced

I rigged my Sage four weight and began with a strike indicator, split shot, iron sally and ultra zug bug. The iron sally has become a favorite fly as a result of its productivity in fall conditions. I hiked downstream from my parking space for ten minutes and then scrambled over some large rocks and began lobbing casts in the river. During my entire time on the Colorado River I confined my exploratory casts to within twenty feet of the north bank.

Nice Start

In the thirty minutes before lunch I landed two brown trout; one that measured twelve inches and another that extended to thirteen inches. Both fish were fooled by the iron sally. During the late morning session I became acquainted with the most annoying aspect of the day; the constant need to remove a fibrous moss from the nymphs.

After lunch I removed the ultra zug bug and replaced it with a size 12 20 incher, and I took advantage of this change to rearrange the flies so the iron sally was in the point position. This combination served me for the remainder of the afternoon except for thirty minutes, when I experimented with two streamers. I read many articles in the fly fishing periodicals that hyped the effectiveness of streamers for brown trout in the fall, and I was certain that the conditions were prime for such a tactic on Wednesday, October 24. Between 3:00 and 3:30 I stripped a cheech leech and sparkle minnow, but I never generated a follow. Count me as a skeptic of the hype coming from the fly fishing community.


Despite the streamer shutout I added nine additional brown trout to the fish count over the course of the afternoon, and most of these netted fish crushed the iron sally. My confidence in the yellow sally stonefly imitation continues to grow. All but one of the eleven trout landed on Wednesday were in the twelve to fifteen inch range, and the tally included one fifteen incher and another brown that approximated fourteen inches.

Stunning Place to Fly Fish

When I resumed fishing after lunch, I continued moving upstream next to the Interstate 70 off ramp, until I was beyond a green sign, and then I reversed and hiked downstream for ten minutes. At this point I cut down to the river and fished the edge of a stretch of fast water. This section of the river yielded the most fish.

Best Fish of the Day

Deep troughs of moderate velocity were the most productive areas, and eventually I discovered that I was wasting time casting to the marginal areas of shallow depth. I suspect that prospecting the riffles of moderate depth might be more successful during the summer, when the brown trout spread out to binge on increased insect activity.

Lit Up

I was extremely pleased with my success during my initial visit to the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. I sampled only a small section of the public access available, and I hope to make the area a more frequent destination. The towering red canyon walls are unsurpassed, and even I took frequent breaks from fly fishing to marvel at my surroundings.

Fish Landed: 11

Colorado River – 09/24/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Pumphouse Recreation Area upstream into Gore Canyon

Colorado River 09/24/2018 Photo Album

Originally I planned to complete a trip to the Arkansas River on September 24; however, when I checked the ArkAnglers’ Fly Shop report, I discovered that the river was stained due to construction work on the F Street Bridge in Salida. Although fishing above the F Street Bridge was a backup option, this did not appeal to me as much as prospecting the quality water below Salida.  I was reluctant to make the nearly three hour drive with the risk of dirty water, so I adjusted my plans.

I settled on the Colorado River at the Pumphouse Recreation Area. The fly shop reports were encouraging, and although the flows were lower than normal for September, I knew that these conditions would actually be beneficial for wade fishing. The Colorado River at Pumphouse was my destination three times in the past, but for various reasons I never devoted a full day to exploring the area.

Promising But a Let Down

I arrived at the daily fee parking area by 11AM, and after I assembled my Sage four weight and completed my elbow stretches, I was on my way on the Gore Canyon Trail. I skipped the lower water and then waded up the extremely low right braid next to a large island that split the river. Toward the top of the right channel I cut across the island to the main branch, and here I began my effort to land Colorado River trout. I began fishing with a tan pool toy, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph; and the large surface fly prompted four refusals from small fish in marginal pockets along the bank. I eventually discovered that this was some of the best action during the first four hours of fishing.

After Wiping Off the Water Spot

When I reached the top of the island, I crossed to the right bank, and between noon and 3:45PM I progressed up the river, while I prospected likely spots with the dry/dropper combination. Along the way I experimented with a 20 incher, hares ear and RS2; but none of these offerings enabled me to feel a sag in my net. I also skipped long sections of the river, that I deemed unproductive, and each time I reached the head of a pool or pocket water, I encountered several anglers. A large percentage of my day was spent hiking and changing flies.

Willows Glowing

I reached a large vertical rock that served as an impediment to further progress, so I reversed my direction and retreated toward the parking lot. Along the way I paused at several attractive runs and pools, but once again the trout of the Colorado River were not kind to my approaches. Some young anglers near my farthest progression were catching whitefish on nymphs using an indicator set up, so I converted to that methodology for thirty minutes, but the change in approach failed to yield improved results.

When I reached the confluence of the two braids below the island, I reverted to the dry/dropper technique, although I swapped the pool toy for a size 8 Chernobyl ant. The area was by now absent of other fishermen, so I fished along the northern edge of the island for one hundred yards. During this effort I landed a six inch brown trout that grabbed the RS2, and I hooked a ten inch brown that leaped above the water and tossed the fly aside. Another trout refused the Chernboyl, and my frustration escalated.

By 3:30 my confidence reached a low ebb, and I decided to return to the parking lot to check out the river below the boat launches. Halfway between the confluence of the channels and the trail head I passed two spin fishermen, and I greeted the older of the two gentlemen. He asked how I was doing, and I replied, “not very well”. Apparently sensing my dissatisfaction with my day of fishing thus far, he informed me that quite a few fish were rising a short distance below where we were conversing, and I asked for more specific directions. He described the area, and I wandered thirty yards below the two fishermen.

Surprised by This Late Bruiser

My skepticism evaporated, as I paused to observe, and I spotted three dimples in the slow moving deep water within fifteen feet of the bank. I switched to a CDC blue winged olive, and between 3:45 and 5:00 I landed five gorgeous brown trout that sipped the BWO imitation. This may sound easy, but the situation required stealth, patience and careful casting skills. The water was extremely smooth, and I positioned myself to make casts very cautiously. I am right handed, and a dense cluster of trees and bushes arched over the water behind me making my natural cast very challenging.

Fortunately the trout were very narrowly focused on sipping tiny blue winged olives, and this diffused their wariness to some extent. I very slowly waded four feet away from the bank, and I angled my back cast over my left shoulder to create clearance from the bankside vegetation. Initially the fish ignored my size 24 CDC tuft, but eventually three decent brown trout failed to make the distinction between natural and fraud, and I admired them in my net. Two were in the twelve inch range and one was ten inches, but after hours of futility I was very thankful for the dry fly action late in the day.

Happy With This Decent Brown Trout

Eventually the sun broke through the clouds, and this reduced the food source to a few random stragglers. The frequency of surface eats declined significantly, but I rested the water and periodically attempted additional delicate casts in an effort to increase the fish count. Of course during this time I managed to snag the trees behind me several times, and in one instance I was forced to snap off the productive size 24. Finally I grew weary of the delicate finesse game, and I decided to return to the car. By now my watch displayed 4:30, and I knew from previous trips that Jane’s concern over my safety would elevate significantly, if I lingered too long.

I began strolling along the Gore Canyon Trail, and after twenty yards I stood next to a section, where the river created a small indentation next to a beach, and I was shocked to see another pod of actively feeding fish. I could not resist the temptation to target these steady feeders, so I positioned myself at the tail of the nice shelf pool. Once again a cluster of trees was behind me, but unlike the other setting, I could side arm cast over the beach area for decent clearance.

At least eight if not more fish dimpled the surface, and I targeted a steady riser ten feet above me. On the fifth drift a surface disturbance coincided with the position of my fly, and I quickly raised the rod tip and set the hook. When I got my first glimpse of the thrashing fighter, I was shocked to learn, that I was connected to a strong fifteen inch brown trout. One can imagine my excitement, as I slid my net beneath the prize, after the long period of futility during the early afternoon.

But the story does not end here. I released the brown and resumed casting to some rising fish to my left, but this area presented more glare, and I was unable to follow my fly. I turned my attention once again to the area that produced the prize brown, and another fish rose four feet upstream from the site of my recent success. I began lobbing soft casts to the area, and on the eighth drift a fish slurped my offering. Once again I reacted swiftly, and this fish battled even harder than the previous, although once it was in my net, it measured closer to fourteen inches. Needless to say I was in a state of heightened elation with the end of day successes.

Full Moon Shines

After I released the second unexpected bruiser, I glanced at my watch and noted that it was a few minutes after 5PM. Despite continued feeding in the quality pool next to me, I clipped my fly to the rod guide and walked at a brisk pace back to the parking lot.

What a strange day. I rode an emotional roller coaster from hopeful expectations to the depths of despair over my inability to attract fish to my flies over an extended four hour period. Then in the final hour I was energized by a fairly dense blue winged olive hatch and pods of actively feeding trout. I was able to overcome some casting and lighting hurdles in order to land five wild brown trout, and the netted fish were quality fish. I may consider another visit to the Colorado River; however, I will not rush to arrive there early.

Fish Landed: 6




Colorado River – 08/04/2017

Time: 10:00AM – 1:30PM

Location: Kemp-Breeze Unit below Parshall

Colorado River 08/04/2017 Photo Album

During 2007 through 2009 I experienced the halcyon days of the upper Colorado River near Parshall, CO. I visited the public access points in this area seven times during this time frame, and each provided hours of hot action. Pale morning duns, caddis and blue winged olives hatched regularly; and my fly box contained the flies that enabled me to record outstanding days with fish counts in the upper teens and low twenties. The quality of fish was also exemplary with many trout that measured in the fifteen to twenty inch range.

During 2010 I made one visit to the scene of some of my favorite fishing excursions, but I only managed to land seven fish, and the abundant hatches that encouraged surface feeding from the resident trout never materialized. In subsequent years I returned and experienced similar disappointing results.

As I considered my fishing options for Friday August 4, I recalled the wonderful hatches and excellent fishing during the halcyon period. I decided to retrieve my fishing logs from the archives, so I could do some analysis. Perhaps I stumbled into a late July/early August mayfly hatch that was not pale morning duns, and visits after 2010 took place outside this window of opportunity? Sure enough when I reviewed the 2007 through 2010 log reports, I discovered that all the visits took place between July 28 and August 5. Subsequent trips were either earlier or later than the historically productive time frame.

There was only one way to test my theory, and that was to make another trip in 2017 on August 4. I actually printed the fishing log entry for August 5, 2008 and read it a second time, since I planned to use it as a template for my attempt to reinstate the upper Colorado River as a favored summer fishing destination. I packed the car the night before and departed Denver by 7:05AM, and this placed me at the Breeze Unit parking lot by 9:15. Several cars preceded me, and as I was assembling my Sage One five weight, a guide and clients arrived and parked behind me. The upper Colorado is a mosquito haven, so I doused myself with insect repellent as soon as I stepped outside the car, but for some reason the population seemed diminished compared to prior experience.

Wide Open

I tromped down the path and cut through some trees, so that I emerged next to the river above a duck blind and handicapped platform. A group of fishermen with guides were one hundred yards upstream, and another angler was positioned below the handicapped platform, while his wife or significant other monitored his movements from the wooden deck. The structure of the river was a bit different compared to my recollection, but a nice deep run began just above my position and then continued downstream to a point below the handicapped platform.

The flows were in the 380 CFS range, and the sky was bright blue and devoid of clouds. The temperature was in the low sixties when I began and probably peaked at around eighty degrees. I observed the water in front of me for a bit, and other than a few random caddis, I saw nothing that suggested that dry fly fishing would be successful. With this observation in mind I knotted a size 10 yellow Letort hopper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear nymph and beadhead salvation nymph. The Letort hopper was a concession to the throwback nature of the outing.

I made numerous drifts along the deep run, but my efforts provided no evidence that trout were present. As is usually the case, the Letort hopper became saturated, and since it was not enticing fish, I swapped it for a yellow fat Albert for improved visibility and buoyancy. Not wishing to encroach on the gentleman below me, I decided to advance to the top of the deep run and then cross to the opposite side. During my fun years, I enjoyed some of my best action in the riffles and deep runs between the strong center current and the south bank, and I intended to explore the area in 2017.

Once I crossed to the midpoint, I angled downstream so I could begin in the shallow section where the river fans out above a small island across from the platform. My memory flashed images of large brown trout feeding on dry flies in the shallows in the success years, and I was unwilling to discount a repeat. I prospected the dry/dropper systematically beginning in the shallows and worked my way upstream to the point where the fast water entered the extended run and riffle section. I sprayed four or five casts across the targeted area, and then I carefully waded four steps and repeated the exercise. Halfway through this process the velocity of the center current accelerated, and each step became a challenge, but I persisted so that I could cover the sweet spot between where I stood and the bank.

The top one-third of this section looked absolutely exceptional. The depth was four to six feet and the current was moderate. Surely hungry fish selected this attractive area as their home. I began to see more caddis dapping on the surface in the top segment, so I removed the salvation nymph and replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa. Inexplicably after significant effort I covered the entire fifty yard quality area without so much as a refusal. At the very top a narrow deep slick extended for twenty-five feet below a large exposed rock, and this represented my last chance to extract a reward for my morning persistence. I flicked a backhand cast to the middle of the narrow slot, and after the fat Albert drifted a couple feet it paused, and I reacted with a lift and felt myself attached to a thrashing fish. Could this really be happening? After a brief fight, I guided a twelve inch brown trout with an emerald caddis pupa in its lip into my net, and I snapped a few photos in case this was my last fish of the day.

After Two Futile Hours

It was now between 11:30 and noon, and I began to search for a lunch spot. Both banks were covered with tall grass, and that translated to mosquito disturbance, and I hoped to avoid that eventuality. I looked downstream and noted the small island and decided that the rocks at the point would be a solid lunch perch. It took me a few minutes to wade downstream, but I eventually arrived and enjoyed my snack.

Downstream Look at Island and Platform

While I crunched my carrots I began to see several rises in the shallow section between the deep run next to the wooden deck and the island that served as my lunch counter. Initially I dismissed the fish as small fish, but then I resolved that any rising fish was better than none. After all I was in the prime hatch time period according to my printed August 5, 2008 log, so perhaps this was the beginning of something bigger.

I hurriedly finished my lunch and then reconfigured with a solitary size 16 light gray comparadun also know as the money fly. I was playing the 2008 rewind to the maximum. I dabbed some floatant on the body and flicked the mayfly imitation, so it drifted over the location of one of the rises, and in an instant a fish flashed to the surface and inhaled the fraud. I could not believe my eyes, as I set the hook and engaged in a tussle with a nice thirteen inch brown trout. So much for my small fish theory.

A Riser Fooled

Over the next thirty minutes I landed another feisty thirteen inch brown along with a smaller version to improve my fish count to four. I envisioned a replay of 2008, but alas the rising ended, and the brief sparse hatch disappeared. I never saw an actual mayfly, but the sudden feeding action indicated that it must have taken place. By 12:30 I finally acknowledged that the hatch was over, and I considered my next move. Perhaps if I waded upstream to the riffles, I could spot more subtle rises and cast to them with my size 16 comparadun?

Another Money Fly Chomper

I did exactly that, but zero fish revealed their position, and I managed no success, as I prospected the money fly over relatively shallow riffles. While the hatch evolved, two new gentlemen arrived, and they located on the north side of the long riffle with the deep center current. They were somewhat below the top one-third section that appealed to me in the morning, and I decided that I would like to check out the quality area again but with a dry fly approach. I walked along the edge of the river until I reached a place where some thick bushes stretched over the water, and this forced me to wade a bit deeper to avoid them. As soon as I stepped on the upstream side of the bushes, I was surprised to see two fishermen sitting on the bank eating their lunch. They were perfectly positioned to fish the area that I was targeting, so I executed a reversal and retraced my steps along the fringe of the river.

I found a place to cross to the bank where I began my day, and as I did so, the two fishermen below me decided to call it a day. We exchanged greetings, and then I advanced downstream to where it all began in the morning. I stopped and observed the long deep run hoping to witness some subtle rises, but none appeared. The 2008 report documented that the hatch ended at 1PM, and the remainder of the afternoon was relatively slow. The air temperature was quite warm, and the sky was clear blue, and I sensed that tough fishing would rule the afternoon. I decided to cut my losses and moved to a small cold mountain creek with less discerning more opportunistic fish.

My experiment was over, and I concluded that for some reason the heavy hatches of late July and early August were largely a historical event. It is true that I only sampled one day, and perhaps different weather would spur more action, but for the future I plan to avoid the upper Colorado in July and August, while I seek other destinations with a recent record of success.

Fish Landed: 4

Colorado River – 07/18/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Parshall Breeze Unit/Hot Sulfur Springs below Byers Canyon

Colorado River 07/18/2017 Photo Album

I was admittedly frustrated with the tiny fish that populated the Colorado River below Shadow Mountain, so I proposed a trip to the Colorado River near Parshall, CO below the confluence with the Williams Fork. I enjoyed some amazing trips to that area in the 2007 – 2009 time frame; however, recent experiences were very disappointing. Despite this reluctance, I absorbed the various fly shop reports, and they all voiced glowing reviews and cited pale morning dun, yellow sally, and caddis hatches. Our location at Shadow Mountain offered limited large rivers with the potential for larger fish, so we rolled the dice and made the drive on Tuesday.

The day can easily be summed up as very tough. The upper Colorado River valley was quite warm, and bright sun beat down on us amid a clear blue sky for nearly the entire time on the river. The flows were in the 450 – 500 cfs range, and that is actually nearly ideal, so water levels were never an issue.

The Wide Colorado River at the Breeze Unit

John and arrived at the Breeze Unit parking lot at 10:00AM, and after he and I assembled our rods (in my case the Sage One five weight), we hiked toward the river. We turned right at the end of the high sagebrush plateau and then angled down a long bank until we reached the riparian zone. Here we were immediately attacked by mosquitoes, and this state of insect siege never relented during our entire stay at the Breeze Unit. We waded halfway across the river to the tip of an island, and then we proceeded to the downstream point until we spotted a pair of fishermen. This forced us to change our plan, and we elected to fish the north braid.

The north channel offered quite a few nice deep runs behind large submerged boulders, but the fish paid no attention to my tan pool toy, iron sally nymph, and salvation nymph. After striking out on the north side of the island, John and I moved to the tip. Here I observed the current, as it ran along the south bank, and I was surprised to spot two rises likely from the same fish. I removed the three flies and began to cast in the vicinity of the rises with a yellow stimulator. The fish was not impressed. Perhaps some early stage pale morning duns were on the water. I switched to a size 16 light gray pale morning dun, and the situation remained the same.

John Prospects Some Water Next to the Bank

I gave up on the sporadic riser and surveyed the area for a place to eat my lunch. All the banks were covered in tall grass, and this translated to mosquito hell, so I sat down on the gravel bar at the tip of the island.

After lunch John and I hiked for .4 mile to a gorgeous long pool with a strong deep current down the middle. This particular spot was one of my favorites during the halcyon days of 2007 – 2009. I reverted to a size 12 yellow stimulator, and this generated a refusal. Normally a refusal frustrates me, but after the extended dry spell without so much as a look, it was encouraging to draw interest from a trout. I downsized to a size 14, and this led to a small foul hooked brown trout. I seemed to be on the right track.

At this point the sky clouded up briefly, and during this respite from the sun I spotted several yellow sallies in the air. Finally a twelve inch brown trout crushed the stimulator three feet above the location of a splashy rise, and I landed my first fish on the day. This encouraged me to stay with the size 14 stimulator, and after a period of bright sunshine, a cloud once again blocked the sun. I executed a long downstream drift along the center current, and an eleven inch brown trout slurped the stimulator. During this period of temporary cloudiness I also witnessed three or four refusals and looks.

A Hard Earned Brown Trout

After another lull in action I experimented with a yellow Letort hopper size 10, and I was surprised by a temporary hookup. Eventually I once again returned to the stimulator, but the sun came out bright, and this quashed any additional action. John and I surrendered to the heat and sun and mosquitoes and returned to the car before malaria and West Nile set in.

We debated paying a visit to Willow Creek, a small tributary to the north, but we settled on the Colorado River just below the US 40 bridge at the western end of Byers Canyon. John fished there previously, and he was eager to showcase the nice water. We hiked downstream, and I fished some attractive water with the size 14 stimulator with no success. In a last ditch effort I experimented with a slumpbuster trailing the iron sally, and this trial led to no success.

A Parachute Ant Proved Fruitless

Just before quitting we noticed some rises in a smooth pool by the car, so I knotted a parachute ant to my line, but it was another failed effort. We were hot and tired and itchy from bites, so we retreated to John’s truck and made the drive back to Shadow Mountain for happy hour. We invested a lot of blood (to mosquitoes) and sweat for minimal return on the Colorado River on July 18.

Fish Landed: 2

Colorado River – 07/17/2017

Time: 2:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Below Shadow Mountain Dam

Colorado River 07/17/2017 Photo Album

Our friends, John and Brenda Price, invited us to join them on a three day camping retreat at Green Ridge Campground next to Shadow Mountain Reservoir. After experiencing a nearly full campground at Angel of Shavano Campground near Monarch Pass, we felt it was prudent to make reservations for Monday through Wednesday July 17 – 19. John and Brenda selected campsite 67, so we opted for number 66, as that was located next door. We planned to share meals, and the close proximity made this site convenient.

Jane and I arrived at the campground on Monday at 12:30, and John and Brenda greeted us after ten minutes, while we set up our tent and canopy. The Prices own a Casita travel trailer, so tent and canopy assembly were not part of their routine. Jane and I quickly made sandwiches and ate our lunch, and John suggested that we rig our rods and explore the Colorado River that ran just beyond a field of sagebrush fifty yards behind our campsite. I assembled my Sage four weight, and a short amount of time elapsed before we were positioned next to the river just below the spillway of Shadow Mountain Reservoir.

The river at this point was quite low. I am not aware of a gauge that meters the flow, but I guessed it was in the 40 – 50 cfs range. Before making the trip, I reviewed the DOW stocking reports and searched on the Colorado River, but no recent stocking data surfaced. I fished the short stretch of the Colorado River between Shadow Mountain and Lake Granby over ten years ago, and I experienced decent success, but the segment of the river benefited from frequent stockings. With the apparent discontinuation of stocking, I was skeptical that  the segment of water before us would be a productive fishery.

I began my afternoon efforts with a size 12 yellow stimulator, and the first marginal run yielded numerous refusals and a five inch brown trout. Perhaps I arrived at my judgment of the Shadow Mountain section of the Colorado too hastily. I crossed the river at a shallow riffle and moved downstream to the next attractive area where, a swift run churned through the middle of the channel and then spread out into a deep slow moving pool.

Fish were rising quite frequently, and I began with some across and down drifts, and in a short amount of time I registered a host of refusals and several tiny rainbow trout. Tiny in this case is defined as small trout in the 2 – 4 inch range. These fish could barely get the size 12 hook in their mouths, and in fact quite a few flipped off the fly shortly after the hook set. A couple flew through the air like a yo-yo on a string despite a relatively gentle lift of the rod tip.

Best Fish from Colorado River Below Shadow Mountain on Monday

As this action transpired I noted some rises in the gut of the pool; a place where the current spread out over the deepest section. I began to focus on the area of this activity, and I fluttered some casts in the current and allowed my fly to drift downstream to the area of the feeding fish. I was shocked when a bulge engulfed my stimulator, but I reacted with a swift hook set and instantly felt the weight of a more substantial fish. The hooked underwater combatant immediately went into a frenzied streak and repeated this escape effort several times, before I lifted it into my net. There before me was a lightly speckled cutbow that measured in the thirteen inch range. I was quite pleased with this fortuitous turn of events. I snapped a photo and released the creamy silver sided specimen and resumed casting.

Once again I cast across and allowed the current to float the stimulator downstream toward the deep section, but in this case the drift was farther out. Again a slurp materialized, and this time I netted a fine eleven inch cutbow. This fish also displayed a strong pound for pound fight, before I subdued it. At this point I was feeling rather optimistic about the remainder of the afternoon, but alas this positive view of my future was misplaced.

John on Target

John and I continued downstream and eventually passed twenty yards below a pedestrian footbridge, and I simply exercised my arm and endured a huge number of refusals, temporary hook ups, and landed five or six trout that measured beneath my six inch minimum for counting. I tested a pheasant tail nymph dropper below the stimulator to no avail. For a period of time I knotted a tan pool toy to my line and combined it with a beadhead hares ear, and ultra zug bug. No dice. I noticed a few tiny blue winged olives at one point and swapped the ultra zug bug for a RS2. This change was also in vain.

Toward the end of my time on the river I tested a size 16 gray caddis, and this yielded looks, refusals, temporary connections, and a few tiny fish; but nothing that could be counted. It was cloudy for much of the afternoon, although thirty minutes of sunshine appeared around 3PM, and rises ended during this time. When the clouds reappeared, I observed a few tiny BWO’s, some caddis, and two PMD spinners; but these sparse populations of insects provided no relief from the frustration of interacting with very small trout.

Osprey Nest Along Colorado River Below Shadow Mountain

The Colorado River below Shadow Mountain was very convenient, and I managed two reasonable sized cutbows, but the afternoon was rather disappointing. The highlight was standing under a dead pine tree with a huge osprey nest perched on the tip. During our stay we enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the nearby osprey family.

Fish Landed: 2

Colorado River – 08/31/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Harbison Meadows Picnic area path upstream for .75 mile

Colorado River 08/31/2016 Photo Album

After two fun nights of camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, I had Wednesday available for a day of fishing. I examined A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park in conjunction with the map in the glossy brochure provided by the park and decided to explore the lower Colorado River from the southwest boundary upstream. The map indicated that a path began at the Harbison Meadows Picnic Area, and it intersected with the Colorado River after a one mile hike.

After packing up our camping gear, Jane and I departed from the campground by 10AM and drove south, until we reached the aforementioned picnic area just north of the west side entrance gate. The temperature was 55 degrees as I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and pulled on my waders. Jane accompanied me on the one mile jaunt through the woods, until we connected with the Colorado River Trail. Here we turned right, and then after a short distance I spotted the river on my left. I said my goodbyes to Jane, and she reversed her direction, as she planned to hike the stock trail to the Kewuneeche Visitor Center.

Lots of Slow Placid Pools

I angled away from the trail and crossed a marshy area until I reached the river. I was disappointed to discover private cabins and summer residences on the western side of the river. I labored to hike away from the road only to discover that the stream in the southwest corner was accessible via a road. To begin my day of fishing I tied an amber bodied size 14 stimulator to my line and began to cast. The first section of the river consisted of a slow deep pool, so I lobbed a cast to the middle and just behind an exposed stump. I was astonished when a nine inch brown trout darted to the surface and inhaled the stimulator. Was it going to be this easy?

First Fish Was This Brown Trout

A second cast landed five feet below the first, and another brown trout smacked the stimulator, but this aggressive feeder was only seven inches long. Above the mid-pool obstruction I ran some casts tight to the opposite bank, and another small brown snatched the stimmy just as it was about to drag. Three fish in fifteen minutes in the first pool had me feeling quite optimistic.

Looks Promising

Once I departed the large pool, however, the day grew more challenging. The river in this area was quite different from what I am accustomed to. Long smooth deep pools represented the salient water type, and they were typically connected by shallow runs. I really did not have a strategy for attacking the pools, so I began to systematically make long casts to within one to two feet of the bank. This worked somewhat, although I also experienced a significant quantity of refusals from tiny brown trout. From 11 until 2:30 I moved the fish count from three to eight, but five fish in 2.5 hours of fishing is really only an average catch rate. I covered a huge amount of water and made countless long unproductive casts. In fact Wednesday August 31 probably strained my back and arm muscles more than any previous outing in 2016. The water was low and clear, and the absence of significant impediments to a backcast allowed me to approach from a distance.

During the 11 to 2:30 period I landed one small brook trout, and for half of this time I added a size 20 black parachute ant as a second dry. The ant strategy accounted for two of the five fish, and in a nice segment with deep slow moving water along a high bank, the ant produced a long distance release. I continued to fish the ant as a trailing dry for another half hour until I decided to change my lineup. The stimulator was attracting all the attention and nearly 100% of the looks resulted in refusals, so I committed to downsizing. I tied on a size 16 gray caddis, and when I began to connect the ant, I realized that the hook point was broken off! This clearly explained the lost fish in the attractive bank section mentioned earlier.

A Caddis Lover

From 2:30 until 4 when I quit I incremented the fish tally to thirteen. The size sixteen caddis was clearly the most productive fly of the day. One of the caddis eaters was an eight inch rainbow, but all the others were brown trout. The caddis seemed to be at its best in moderate riffles and places where the current ran along the bank or next to substantial mid-stream structure.

At 4 o’clock I hooked my fly in the rod guide and reeled up the line. Fortunately I found a nice trail along the river, and forty-five minutes later I was back at Harbison Meadows. Jane grew concerned about my absence, and she sauntered back and met me .2 miles from the trailhead.

The Peak in the Distance Caught My Eye

Wednesday was a tough day from a fishing perspective. The quality of the fishing did not match the physical effort expended to hike one mile from the trailhead. I had the river to myself, but the well worn path and tamped vegetation told me that this segment of the Colorado River received more than moderate pressure. I expected to catch small brook trout, and instead my net was dominated by tiny brown trout. I probably landed and released fifteen tiny browns that failed to exceed my minimum size limit. Nevertheless I was in a beautiful location and essentially had the river to myself. I managed to find a fly that was reasonably effective and registered a thirteen fish day. A day of fishing in Colorado is always a positive.

Fish Landed: 13

Colorado River – 10/15/2015

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Upstream from the Pumphouse access area

Fish Landed: 2

Colorado River 10/15/2015 Photo Album

I fished the Colorado River at the Pumphouse access area twice in October a year ago. In both cases, I fished for only two or three hours, and this is roughly half the time I normally devote to a river or stream that is not within an hour of Denver. On my second trip Jane and I hiked the Gore Canyon Trail, and this provided a great overview of the vast amount of water available at this public area along the middle reaches of the Colorado River. I was itching to make another trip with the intent of hiking farther east along the trail to sample water that I never had time to explore in 2014.

I selected Thursday October 15 to be that day. The weather forecast projected clear dry weather in the Pumphouse area with a high temperature in the low 70’s. Balmy summer-like temperatures continued into the middle of October, and I did not intend to waste my good fortune. Jane agreed to accompany me, so we loaded the car and departed by 8AM. This enabled us to arrive at the Pumphouse parking area by 10:45, and I prepared to fish by rigging my Sage One five weight. The air temperature was in the low fifties, so I pulled on my fleece sweater and wore it for my entire time on the water, although I must admit that I was quite warm during the middle of the afternoon. Some thin clouds provided cover for the first couple hours, and this combined with intermittent wind made me appreciate the extra layer.

The Merger of Two Channels Below an Island Is Just Beyond the Fisherman

Jane and I entered the Gore Canyon Trail and hiked for .5 mile until we reached a spot where the river merged after splitting around a long island. Jane spread out her blanket here and designated the area as her base camp. She told me to move ahead, and she planned to hike out the fisherman path along the river and meet me after she got established. Unfortunately I hiked farther than we expected, and we never rendezvoused until I returned to the parking lot at the end of the day.

I was not sure where I would fish, but I started on the trail and hiked until I passed the island. The next section of the river was a wide deep pool, and I was intimidated by such a large featureless body of water, so I continued until I arrived at the first fast segment. Here I configured my tapered leader with a Thingamabobber, split shot, iron sally nymph, and salvation nymph. These flies did not deliver results despite some very attractive deep runs and pockets, so I switched out the salvation for an ultra zug bug. Finally after thirty minutes of fishing, an eleven inch brown snagged the ultra zug bug as I began to lift in a narrow slot along the bank.

Best Catch of the Day

I continued to fish in this manner from 11:30 until 3:00, and the only reward for my efforts was a small brown trout. I changed the ultra zug bug for a beadhead soft hackle emerger after an hour, as I hoped that blue winged olives might be in the drift despite the clear sunny day. I also removed the iron sally and replaced it with a pine squirrel leech part way through my time on the river. I covered a half mile of the river including some gorgeous deep runs, pools and pockets, but I was frustrated in my efforts to catch fish.

By 2:45 I reached a place where a very large rock formed a barrier to my progress. Rather than attempt to scale the steep obstacle to proceed, I decided to turn around. I used this as an opportunity to swap reels, and I switched to my sinking tip line and then knotted a sparkle minnow to the end. For the next forty-five minutes I threw the streamer in all the likely places and aggressively manipulated the minnow imitation in all directions and at various retrieval speeds. The flashy fly looked great as it darted and twitched, but I could not even generate a follow.

A Big River

Eventually I worked my way to the large pool above the island, and at this point I found the path and returned to the confluence area. Jane had already returned to the car, but I paused to strip the sparkle minnow through the delicious pool and eddy just below the confluence of the two channels. I saw and felt nothing, so I began to question whether the sparkle minnow was the correct choice for autumn brown trout. I removed the flashy fly and replaced it with a peanut envy. I tied a batch of these over the winter, but I have yet to connect on a fish with my recent handiwork. The articulated olive streamer looked great in the water, as it exhibited pulsing movement, but the fish did not seem to agree. By 3:10 I gave up on the deep eddy and headed back to the parking lot. I stopped at a couple attractive spots along the path and made five or six casts, but again my efforts to catch a Colorado River trout on a streamer were thwarted.

The scenery was gorgeous, and the weather was more like summer, but the fishing proved to be quite challenging on the Pumphouse section of the Colorado River on October 15. If I return to this location, I will try to time my visit to a different month when more insect activity might spur the trout to become visible feeders. Prospecting such a huge body of water is a daunting proposition, and I learned that it can be unproductive as well.

Colorado River – 10/11/2014

Time: 2:15PM – 4:15PM

Location: Pumphouse access

Fish Landed: 1

Colorado River 10/11/2014 Photo Album

After visiting the Pumphouse access area of the Colorado River with my friend Steve on Tuesday October 7, I was very curious about the water upstream from the boat launches. Steve and I fished up the river perhaps .3 mile, but we stopped at some gorgeous water below a large island, and the Gore Canyon Trail continued. I really wanted to explore the river in the canyon as far as one could reasonably access it.

The weather on the weekend was forecast to continue its glorious trend, and Jane was interested in undertaking a hike somewhere in the mountains, so I suggested the Gore Canyon Trail. It was a two hour drive to Pumphouse, but I convinced her it was a very scenic area that she had never visited. I also searched Gore Canyon Trail on Google and discovered that the length was 1.5 miles one way, but one could continue another mile if not averse to scrambling over boulders.

Looking Back at the Tip of a Large Island

Looking Back at the Tip of a Large Island

Saturday did indeed develop into a very nice day weather wise with high temperatures in the upper sixties before some clouds rolled in during the late afternoon resulting in some brief showers and a cool wind. Jane and I began hiking the Gore Canyon Trail at approximately 11AM, and we covered the entire trail by noon. After the island above the attractive water featuring various merging currents, one trail split off and followed the river while the official Gore Canyon Trail ascended the steep slope of the canyon and then traversed high above the water. After approximately a mile, the trail gradually descended and ended in a boulder field right next to the river.

Jane and I found some large rocks in the sun and ate our lunches, but we were not alone, as two groups of fishermen arrived shortly after we began to eat. Apparently the additional mile into the canyon meant scrambling over the large rocks next to the river, and I assume that eventually a fisherman or hiker would encounter a place where the steep canyon walls prevented additional progress toward the east. The end of the trail was not marked at all, and Jane and I speculated that we missed a turn that would have kept us high above the river. On our return hike we searched carefully for such a turn off but never found one, thus we concluded that we hiked to the end of the trail.

Fishermen at the End of the Trail

Fishermen at the End of the Trail

As we hiked out and back on the trail, we counted at least twenty other fishermen between Pumphouse and the end point, but the Colorado River is such a large body of moving water that plenty of space remained. Naturally before we left Denver I asked Jane’s permission for two hours of fishing time, so when we returned to the parking lot I prepared to fish. I elected my Scott six weight rod, as it is perfect for the large deep flows of the Colorado River. I made sure to stuff my spool of sinking tip line in my fishing backpack, and then Jane and I once again hiked east on the trail.

I was hoping to start at the water below the large island, but when we arrived another fisherman was already enjoying the juicy deep runs and eddies. Jane set up her folding chair on the gravel beach, and I crossed the south braid next to the island and began fishing the north channel where it bordered the northern edge of the island. My first flies were a gray pool toy, beadhead hares ear, and an ultra zug bug. This threesome is developing into my standard starting combination of flies. The first nice pool behind some large boulders was quite attractive so I spent fifteen minutes there, but had no success.

A Very Dangerous Rapid

A Very Dangerous Rapid

After abandoning the starting pool, I continued around a bend and fished along the north side of the island. I had the water to myself, but I moved rather quickly as the runs and pockets in this stretch were quite marginal. The river on the north side was essentially a wide fast riffle, so I crossed the island and forded the south braid and returned to Jane. The fisherman occupying my favored destination remained, so I continued downstream below him. The river made a large bend below the island and then as the main current angled back toward the middle of the river, it formed a nice twenty-five foot wide pool that continued for a length of around seventy feet.

I fished this pool thoroughly with my three flies, but again I saw no sign of fish. Once again I reeled up the flies and climbed the bank until I found the Gore Canyon Trail, and then I walked farther downstream to the area where I caught two fish and observed numerous rises on Tuesday. I carefully observed the water in this area for rising fish, but seeing none, I once again prospected likely places with the three fly combination. After ten minutes of fruitless casting, the sky clouded up and the wind picked up, and I noticed a few sporadic rings on the surface.

I moved up a bit until I could execute a backhand roll cast, and on the third drift the hopper paused, and I hooked a small brown. The bend in my rod was short lived as the fish quickly broke free, and I was disappointed to miss my opportunity to prevent a skunking. Now the sky grew darker and the frequency of rising trout increased, so I moved up the river a bit to gain a better position closer to the visible fish. Once I was settled in my new position I swapped the ultra zug bug for a soft hackle emerger with the hope that the fish were seeing a lot of subsurface BWO nymphs and emergers.

The two fish that were rising in the smooth water above where I had the first hook up showed no interest in my offerings, and then I hooked a branch on a backhand cast, and this forced me to disturb the water to rescue my flies. Once again I gazed upstream and spotted a few rises in a faster current below a protruding rock that was positioned farther out and away from the bank. I decided to study the water for a bit in hopes of confirming that blue winged olives were the insects that enticed the trout to the surface. Initially I could not find any evidence of a hatch, but then I glanced at a smooth spot next to the eddy downstream and a bit to the side of the rock. Finally I saw a flotilla of tiny mayflies with upright wings silhouetted against the sun glare on the smooth water.

This discovery caused me to consider converting to a CDC olive, but between the swirly water and the sun glare, I knew I would never be able to see my fly, so I cast the trio of flies to the run and along the seam between the fast and slack water. The combination of adverse lighting factors was so difficult that I could not even see the pool toy and its bright neon pink indicator tuft. My answer to this frustrating circumstance was to remove the pool toy and replace it with a chubby Chernobyl, and the bulky white poly wing of this fly did in fact improve my ability to follow.

Unfortunately shuffling the top fly was all for naught, as the fish ignored the emerger and the hares ear, and after ten minutes the rising fish ceased their feeding. The sky brightened at this point and the quantity of tiny mayflies in the glare spot dwindled. Once again I looked upstream to an extended stretch of smooth water and again I observed a couple rises. Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expect different results, so I must be insane because I repeated the whole process once again. I waded to a new position below the pair of rises, and I lobbed the three flies above the location of the fish. Again the fish ignored my flies and stopped rising.

By now the hatch ended, but the sky remained gray and the air temperature began to plummet. I was frustrated with my futile attempts to match the hatch with an emerger, and I planned to experiment with streamer fishing, so I decided now was the time. I sat on a rock and removed my spool of floating line and replaced it with a sinking tip line. I rummaged through my fleece patch and ripped out a large ugly sulpzilla with a silver conehead and knotted this to the end of my short stout leader. I began chucking the heavy weighted fly toward a current seam fifteen feet across from my position, and then I stripped, jigged and swerved it back to my feet.

The Only Fish of the Day

The Only Fish of the Day

I repeated these steps as I worked my way up toward a protruding rock and varied my retrieve motions and speed. Just when I was ready to denounce streamer fishing as a waste of time, and as I was midway between where I began and the exposed rock, my rod began to throb. I quickly set the hook and felt the weight of a fish! My first thought was that I foul hooked a fish with my huge streamer. I used the flex of my Scott six weight to apply side pressure and guided a twelve inch brown trout into my net. When I got a closer look, I rejoiced to see that the articulated streamer hook was clearly in the mouth of my little meat eater.

Meat Eater

Meat Eater

I took a few photos to prove to myself that I actually caught a fish on a streamer and avoided a Saturday skunking, and then I resumed fishing with renewed enthusiasm. Of course, streamer success comes in small doses, and on my second cast I snagged a solid immovable object. I waded upstream in an effort to pull in a different direction to save my sculpzilla, but despite the heavy leader I left the ugly olive streamer on the river bottom. It was now approaching 4PM, and Jane had passed by me on her return to the parking lot thirty minutes prior. My allotted fishing time was near an end, and it was quite chilly, so I reeled in my line and called it quits. I really wanted to see if I could repeat the streamer success, but other factors trumped this desire.