Category Archives: S. Boulder Creek

South Boulder Creek – 08/20/2023

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/20/2023 Photo Album

On 8/16/2023 I made a trip to South Boulder Creek after a long hiatus due to dam expansion construction, road closures, and high flows. I experienced a fun day with flows at 155 CFS, and I was excited to make a return. I mentioned the idea of a visit to South Boulder Creek to my young fishing friend, Nate, and he was interested as well. I sold him on visiting a scenic location, wild trout and a green drake hatch. It did not take much convincing, and we arranged to make the trip on Sunday, August 20. I am generally averse to fishing on weekends, but Nate’s only days off are Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday; so I made an exception.

Nate drove, and we used the route through Boulder, CO and Flagstaff Park and arrived at a very busy parking lot at the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead on Sunday morning. We were relieved and pleased to discover open parking spaces. The air temperature was already in the low eighties, so we knew that Sunday was destined to be a hot day, and we both avoided thinking about the one mile uphill climb from the creek to the parking lot at the end of the day. Flows on the DWR web site were 144 CFS, and this represented a decline from August 16, but the water level was still higher than ideal in this angler’s opinion.

Heck of a Spot

I assembled my older Sage four weight, and we departed on the wide dirt trail toward South Boulder Creek, and we reached our designated starting point by 10:45AM. The hike in was taxing in the warm temperatures, and we could not contemplate the mostly uphill return. I assembled a South Boulder Creek fly box for Nate that included parachute green drakes, green drake comparaduns, a user friendly green drake, some foam beetles, a couple Chernobyl ants, and a parachute hopper. We both began our search for wild trout at 11:00AM with a size 14 parachute green drake, and we were quickly vindicated for our choice, By the time we stopped for lunch at 11:45AM, Nate was on the board with six splendid trout, and I netted eight. Although Nate recorded fewer trout, he made up for that fact with larger fish.

Nice Early Action

At the start of our day on the creek, we were able to cross to the south bank, and we worked our way upstream on that side for most of the day. A few wide spots offered moderated flows, and enabled us to cross. I generally believe that fishing the side of the river opposite a road or pathway is more productive, and on Sunday we mostly followed this tactic. During the afternoon I observed six natural green drakes, as they made the ascent from the river. They were large dark olive blurs and they glided smoothly skyward to begin their adult lives.

Zoomed a Bit Closer

I persisted with the parachute green drake for my entire stay on South Boulder Creek. For the last thirty minutes I added a size 14 light gray deer hair caddis as a second fly behind the green drake, and the caddis produced a pair of brown trout. Nate followed the same strategy for much of the day, but he also tested a user friendly green drake and a green drake comparadun in a double dry fly alignment. These trials produced a few fish, but we concluded that they did not match the pace of success that the single parachute dry yielded during the morning and early afternoon.

Dave’s Best

At one point in the afternoon Nate equaled his record for number of trout caught in a day at eleven, but a long dry spell with the double dry caused him to reevaluate. He plucked a royal madam X from his fly box, and instantly an inviting pool under an overhanging branch, that seemed lifeless with the double dry, jumped to life and produced two chunky brown trout. The madam X was a sure fired winner, and Nate jumped his fish count to eighteen on the back of the madam X. Actually Nate was not sure whether the count was seventeen or eighteen, but I grabbed the higher number to set the hurdle higher for his next outing.

Better Lighting

By 4:30PM the action slowed to a snail’s pace, and the bright sun in a cloudless sky beat down on our beings. We were hot and weary, and we reached a convenient exit point, so we climbed a steep bank back to the path and hoofed it back to the parking lot. Of course a fair amount of perspiration was involved in the one mile climb, but we both agreed it was worth it for a total of forty-two fish landed in a spectacular setting.

Nate on Fire

This report would not be complete without an account of two incidents that were ancillary to our fly fishing. I knew water would be a valuable commodity on the predicted hot day, so I stuffed my water filter system in my fishing backpack, and after lunch I pulled it out and filled the small bladder with creek liquid. I was holding my larger hydration bladder with my left hand and squeezing filtered water into the large bag with my right hand, when a large black ant crawled across my thumb and tumbled into the bladder. What now? Initially I was willing to continue with ant flavored water, but Nate convinced me that was not a good idea. Credit goes to Nate for patiently tilting the bag on its side, and then giving it a quick lift which flooded the ant to freedom. He was able to complete this rescue with only a small amount of lost water. I did, however, filter a second batch and topped off my hydration bladder.

Careful Hook Removal

During the early afternoon Nate lost awareness of his position, and he flicked a backcast into an overhanging evergreen bough behind him. He was beside himself with frustration, although any angler knows that these events are part of the sport. The fly was on the end of the branch, and it hung approximately ten feet above the surface of the creek. Nate was skeptical that we could reach the branch, but I was not willing to surrender. I scanned the bank behind us, and I found a long and straight dead log that was approximately four inches in diameter and six feet long. I handed it to Nate, and he was able apply pressure and bend the branch downward, but he had a rod in his other hand, and he was unable to reach up while pressuring the branch. I took his rod and moved to his opposite side, and we tried a second time. I was now reaching as high as I could, but the tip of the bough remained a few inches beyond my grasp. I pulled my wading staff from my right side, and I used it to push downward closer to the tip than Nate’s pressure point, and a miracle happened. On one of my sweeps, the wading stick wrapped the line and dragged both flies free! If only we had a third person to record this stream rescue adventure. We must have looked like a crazy team.

Sunday was a superb outing for this addicted fly angler. I was able to introduce Nate to some new sections of South Boulder Creek and to the hot fishing that accompanies the presence of large green drake mayflies. I described it to him in conversation, but that was not the same as actually experiencing it live. Best of all I gained a companion for fishing my favorite Front Range stream. Hopefully the flows will decline more before the green drakes disappear from the South Boulder Creek menu.

Fish Landed: 24

South Boulder Creek – 08/16/2023

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/16/2023 Photo Album

I consider my home waters to be South Boulder Creek, but quite a bit of time elapsed since my last visit. I frequently complain about the variability of the flows on this small tailwater, but that nuisance is now complicated by the construction to expand Gross Reservoir. Twice last year I was forced to abort a trip to South Boulder Creek, when I encountered digital signs announcing the closure of Gross Dam Road. Up until recently the flows remained too high to attempt a trip, but upon my return from Carbondale, I noticed the graph depicted several days of 155 CFS. I fished at 180 CFS in August in previous years with some success especially during the green drake emergence, so I got serious about making the trip.

I visited the web site and reviewed the map that tracked road closures and interruptions. My normal route to South Boulder Creek is via Coal Creek Canyon and then down Gross Dam Road, but that route was displayed in red, and the web site informed visitors that the road was closed until 2027. Yikes. I’ll be 76 by then and probably unable to fish anymore! Upon further review, however, I determined that I could access the creek from the north by traveling through Boulder and then following Flagstaff Road. I called the Denver Water customer service number and spoke with a friendly young lady named Bernice, and she confirmed my conclusion that the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead was open and accessible without interference from the Gross Dam project. My maps application indicated that the northern route extended my drive by fifteen minutes, and consultation with my friend, Nate, suggested that the hike to the middle creek section was comparable to that from the fishermen parking lot near the dam. I was sold on a day of fishing in South Boulder Creek.

155 CFS

I arrived at the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead parking lot, and the temperature was already in the low eighties. Eight other vehicles occupied spaces, but I was unable to determine whether the occupants were fishermen, hikers or bikers. I assembled my Loomis two piece five weight and departed down the dirt trail at the south end of the parking lot. I chose the Loomis, because I like the slow action and the way it casts dry flies and dry/droppers, and I assumed those approaches would dominate on Wednesday.

Nice Deep Run

As I hiked along the creek, I was surprised to discover two other anglers, and they were positioned in the middle of the stretch I targeted. Initially I was inclined to reverse direction and move upstream, but then I concluded that I planned to hike a significant distance below them, and by the time I fished upstream to their current spot, I was fairly certain that they would be gone. When I arrived at my chosen starting point, I realized that the flows were indeed 155 CFS, but the creek was very clear. I quickly determined that I was unlikely to cross due to the swift currents in the center of the creek; and, in fact, I did spend my entire day casting along the right bank.

Buttery Brown

Another Fine Brown Trout

To start my search for hungry trout I armed my line with a peacock hippie stomper and a Jake’s gulp beetle. The combination quickly generated four trout, with two nice brown trout chomping on the beetle. After the initial burst of action, however, the takes slowed to zero, and refusals began to dominate my morning. I removed the beetle, and not wishing to miss out on green drake feeding, I replaced the foam terrestrial with a size 14 parachute green drake. The change paid dividends, and I built the fish count to nine by the time I broke for lunch. Roughly half the eaters favored the hippie stomper with the others chowing down on the green drake.

Another Promising Slick

After lunch I resumed my upstream progression, and the stomper and drake combination spurred the fish count to seventeen. This took place over a couple hours, so the action was steady but not hot. A decent number of refusals and looks were interspersed with the eaters, and I was forced to move frequently to find takers after the solitary fish in a pocket refused my offering. Refusals seemed to prevail more often in the slower moving pools; whereas, takes were prevalent at the tail or along seams. I only spotted two natural green drakes during my entire time on the water, and I was surprised by this. The temperature probably spiked to the low eighties, and the heat may have been a factor in the lack of natural green drakes.

A Better View of the Parachute Green Drake

Hippie Stomper

When I reached seventeen, the fish became ultra fussy, and I suffered a long fish landing drought. I concluded it was time to change. The green drake was generating looks, but no eats, so I replaced it with a green drake comparadun. I loved the look of this fly with a large fan shaped deer hair wing and long moose mane tails, and initially two above average sized trout loved it as well. However after the initial burst of action, the comparadun failed to interest additional trout, so I implemented a radical shift to a dry/dropper featuring a tan size 10 pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear nymph, and a salvation nymph. The hopper was ignored, but the hares ear and salvation produced one fish each. In order to land these two fish I covered some prime water with no success, so I pondered yet another change. I reverted to the foam beetle as the first fly and then added a Harrop hair wing green drake as the second dry. This combination was a dud, but as I was slinging the pair, I spotted a couple pale morning duns. I snipped off the hair wing and replaced it with a size 16 cinnamon comparadun.

Vivid Black Spots on This Rainbow

Rainbow Was Tight to the Rock

By now I reached a narrow fast section that in the past signaled my exit point, so I followed tradition and scaled the rocky bank to the path. On my return hike I paused at two typically productive pools, and I added two more fish to the count to bring the total to twenty-three. Both of the late eaters sipped the trailing cinnamon comparadun.

Love the Orange Spots

The worst part of my day was still ahead of me, however. My new hiking trail to the Walker Ranch Loop Trailhead necessitated a one mile ascent from the creek to the parking lot. I executed small steps, drank water and paused many times, before I arrived at the parking lot. Needless to say, I was drenched in perspiration, and this condition developed in spite of some large black clouds obscuring the sun for much of my climb. Hopefully the difficulty of the one mile hike will fade from my memory banks, before I consider another visit to South Boulder Creek.


Twenty-three fish certainly represented a successful day in the South Boulder Creek canyon. Three brown trout and one rainbow extended to a foot with the remainder falling in the six to eleven inch range. The trout never locked into the green drakes in a manner comparable to previous August visits, when I logged ridiculous fish counts. Was it the heat, the higher flows, or the presence of a pair of anglers ahead of me? I will never know the answer to that puzzle, but I intend to return as soon as I can forget the strenuous climb at the end of the day.

Fish Landed: 23

South Boulder Creek – 09/21/2022

Time: 10:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/21/2022 Photo Album

Having finally recovered from an intense but enjoyable four days in the Flattops area, I once again set my sights on a day of fly fishing along the Front Range. I quickly checked on South Boulder Creek, and I noted that the flows were recently adjusted to 86 CFS. I checked other Front Range possibilities, but this action was simply an exercise in thoroughness, because 86 CFS is near my ideal range, and I was sold on a trip to the small tailwater almost immediately. Weather, however, was the one negative, as high temperatures for Pinecliffe were projected to be 55 degrees, and rain was an increasing likelihood from 2:00PM on. I decided to take the risk of another day of bad weather and departed from Denver on Wednesday morning.

Three vehicles arrived in the Kayak parking lot, while I prepared to fish. One angler dressed in shorts departed with his dog, before I was prepared to do the same. I knew that Wednesday was destined to be a chilly day, so I wore my light down coat over my quick dry undershirt and fishing shirt and stuffed a long sleeved Under Armour thermal shirt in my backpack along with my raincoat. I opted for my Loomis two piece five weight, because I enjoyed it on two days of fly fishing small streams in the Flattops. I recognized that I was at a high risk of overheating on my inbound hike, but I did not have a proper place to stow my light down coat.

A Small Amount of Color Change

My concerns were well founded, and when I perched along the creek and configured my line, I felt the clammy wetness of my undershirt. In fact, I sensed that the perspiration had soaked through to my fishing shirt. I was relatively warm from the exertion, so I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line and began to cast to likely spots with the hope that the atmosphere would warm, or the layers would wick away the sweat. These were both bad assumptions, and although I set a goal to last until lunch before making changes, I was forced to deal with my sweaty state by 11:30AM. High gray clouds blocked the sun throughout the morning, and when a breeze commenced, I felt very uncomfortable. I stripped down to my bare chest and attempted to sop up the perspiration on my upper body, before I snugged on my Under Armour layer. It instantly felt better. I skipped my fishing shirt and went right to the down coat as my next layer, even though it displayed signs of sweat in several locations. For my final layer I pulled on my rain shell. I was hopeful that this would seal in my body warmth and block the wind and cold and eventually rain. In addition, I unfolded the earflaps on my hat, and these moves along with my lunch placed me in a tolerable level of comfort, while I continued my efforts to hook and land some South Boulder Creek trout. I rolled up the short sleeved undershirt and fishing shirt and stuffed them in the backpack in place of the raincoat and Under Armour.

Small but Appreciated Early

As mentioned earlier, I began probing the depths of the stream with a peacock hippie stomper, but gorgeous deep pools, that I was certain harbored trout, failed to deliver, so I paused to reload with a Jake’s gulp beetle. Why the beetle? I had decent success with beetles and ants during previous September trips to South Boulder Creek. It was a great thought, but the beetle attracted zero interest, so I paused once again to reconfigure. The surface flies failed to create a refusal, so I concluded that the fish were more focused on subsurface food morsels, and this thought caused me to attach a size 8 tan pool toy hopper along with a prince nymph on a three foot dropper. Although I continued to fish very attractive spots with no results, I did hook and land three small trout on the prince. Even this success, however, did not convince me that I was presenting the desired offering, so I once again began to experiment. I replaced the prince with a salvation nymph with the hope that a pale morning dun nymph imitation might kick start some action, and similar to the prince, it generated a few small fish, but it did not seem to be a prevalent food source.

Sweet Spot

Out of the Water

By noon my fish count rested on seven, and these fish were small and hard to come by. The morning fishing experience was a huge deviation from two earlier days on South Boulder Creek, when green drakes enticed a trout to eat on nearly every cast. Between 12:15PM and 2:00PM I benefitted from my layer rearrangement, and I was at my peak level of comfort for the day, although I was not basking in a glow of satisfying warmth. What I really needed was more fly fishing action to divert my attention away from my body temperature.

Certain Trout Home

Love the Orange Shade of the Lower Body

I was dissatisfied with the dry/dropper results, so I decided to revert to a dry fly approach. Could the South Boulder Creek trout still respond to green drakes? The weather remained quite summerlike up until Wednesday, so it was worth a shot. I knotted a parachute green drake to my line, and it mostly provoked refusals, although I did net a pair of very aggressive feeders with long memories. I liked the visibility of the green drake, so I left it on my line and added a size 16 gray caddis on a one foot dropper. These two flies allowed the fish count to mushroom to double digits, but I was not convinced that I was optimizing my time on the usually productive creek.

Fish the Slick

I concluded that I could generate refusals just as easily with the more buoyant peacock hippie stomper, so I swapped out the parachute green drake, and as I was performing this transition, I noted a small stonefly and a couple small pale morning duns. A few random rises appeared, and I interpreted these as a sign to tie on a PMD comparadun. I replaced the caddis with a size 18 light gray comparadun, and my fortunes suddenly looked promising. For the remainder of my time on the water I probed slower moving pockets, riffles and slicks; and the comparadun became a favorite target of the stream residents, although the stomper nailed its share of takers particularly along faster seams, where the trout had less time to inspect my offering. At some point the comparadun wing became a sparse wisp of deer hair, so I replaced it with a size 16 gray comparadun with a full fan-shaped wing, and this fly maintained the elevated catch rate, although probably a bit slower than the smaller mayfly imitation. Toward the very end of my time on the creek I replaced the comparadun with a classic size 16 Adams, and that fly also accounted for four trout.

Lovely Ink Spots


The fish count moved steadily to twenty-eight, and as this hot action transpired, a light rain began to descend, and the temperature slid downward. I used these factors as an excuse to exit, and I hiked back to the parking lot. Jane and I had a dinner commitment at 6:30PM in south Denver, so that obligation also played into my decision to quit a bit earlier than usual. On my return hike I paused at a spectacular pool, and as I gazed across the deep, smooth water, I noticed that it was boiling with rises. I estimate that at least fifty fish were in a feeding frenzy. I lobbed ten casts with my hippie stomper and Adams, but they were totally ignored by the ravenous feeders. Clearly they were locked into something very small. I did not have time to experiment with fly changes, but I was very curious regarding the source of the surface eating feast, so I stretched my quick seine mesh over the mouth of my net and seined the water for a minute or two. I was not surprised to find a size 20 blue winged olive with perky upright wings, and this explained the scene in front of me. I filed this for future reference and hiked back to the car.

Two Trout from This Pool

Twenty-eight trout in 4.5 hours of fly fishing was appreciated by this avid angler. The size of the fish was average for the South Boulder Creek tailwater, and once I locked in on the comparadun, the catch rate was more than satisfactory. The two hour window, when I caught the most fish, coincided with an increase in insect activity, so perhaps my fly choices were not as important as the time of the day. Nevertheless, I was pleased to post a solid day after green drake season, and I look forward to more trips to South Boulder Creek before the season winds down.

Fish Landed: 28

South Boulder Creek – 08/12/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/12/2022 Photo Album

After a banner day on South Boulder Creek on 08/03/2022, I was aching to return. I checked the flows upon our return from camping early in the week, and the releases dropped the outflow from 125 CFS to 105 CFS. I regard 80 CFS as perfect, but 105 CFS is quite favorable.

Friday was another hot day in Colorado, and the air temperature in South Boulder Creek Canyon probably peaked around 80 degrees. The flows, however, from the bottom of Gross Reservoir were cold and clear, and I was quite excited for another day on the small tailwater close to Denver. I elected to use my Orvis Access four weight since the flows were lower, and the shorter lighter rod was less taxing on my casting arm.

A New Beginning

I hiked to my chosen starting point and knotted a size 14 poly wing parachute green drake to my line. I considered other offerings in the early going, but I looked forward to fishing green drakes, so why not test the waters at the start? The choice was prescient, and I racked up thirteen landed trout in the morning, before I broke for lunch at noon. The initial fly endured for ten trout, and then the hackle was severed by hungry teeth, and I switched to a size 14 green drake user friendly. The foam backed green drake imitation produced a couple trout, and then it became a refusal machine, so I switched to a size 12 parachute green drake with a turkey flat wing. The turkey flat version duped one trout, and then a wave of refusals ensued. Along the way I found a Wolf Moon landing net lodged on a cluster of logs, and I stuffed it in my backpack with the handle in the bottom of the pocket. The net frame was cracked, but the bag was in excellent shape, so I decided I could salvage that part for future use. Recall that my Wolf Moon landing net floated away from me on a recent visit to Clear Creek, so the fishing gods provided me with compensation.

First Poly Wing Parachute Green Drake

Dense Spots

Brown Trout Smacked My Fly Near the Stick Jumble

After lunch I decided to revert to the poly wing parachute that yielded ten trout in the morning, and this move proved to be a winner. The fish count rocketed from thirteen at lunch to fifty-two on the day. Whew! The action was torrid between 12:15PM, when I finished lunch, and 2:00PM, when I notched number forty. The pace slowed measurably from 2:00PM until 3:00PM, but I did manage to sag my net seven additional times to reach forty-seven. During this time a second poly wing parachute joined its cousin in the retired fly patch, as the hackle climbed up the wing post. The third poly wing remained on my line, until I returned to my car at the end of the day.

Glistening Brown Trout

Of course, the largest fish on the day only extended the tape measure to twelve to thirteen inches, and I landed around eight in this dimension range. The trout density was amazing, and a first cast to prime water nearly always elicited a strike. I spotted four or five natural green drakes in the 12:30PM to 1:30PM window, so the hatch was not very dense, but the South Boulder Creek trout never miss a shot at a large meal such as the western green drake.


Prime Spot

During my hike back to the parking lot I stopped and cherry picked a few prime pools and supplemented the fish count with an additional five to reach fifty-two. Hopefully a few more encounters with green drake madness will greet my calendar in 2022 on South Boulder Creek. My fingers are crossed.

Fish Landed: 52

South Boulder Creek – 08/03/2022

Time: 10:15AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/03/2022 Photo Album

During my last trip to South Boulder Creek on 07/29/2022 I broke my Sage four weight fly rod at 1:30PM, just as I sensed that the fishing was about to explode. On Saturday I made the trip from my home in Denver to Charlie’s Fly Box with the intention of buying a relatively inexpensive backup four weight fly rod to serve my needs for the remainder of the summer, while my old dependable Sage LL got repaired. On Wednesday, August 3, 2022 I found myself once again perched along South Boulder Creek, but in this case I was gripping a brand new Sage nine foot, four weight R8 rod. Instead of a cheap temporary replacement rod, I lightened my wallet to procure the latest top of the line Sage rod. Dave of Charlie’s Fly Box was a good salesman.

My New Fly Rod

New Rod Ready for a Day of Fly Fishing

I arrived at the kayak parking lot by 9:00AM, and a quick check revealed three additional vehicles in the lot. A guide and two customers were gathered behind one of the cars, so I hustled to beat them to the trail. As I was pulling on my waders and gathering my gear after assembling my new Sage R8, a truck pulled into the parking lot next to the guide group. I did not pay much attention, but within five minutes a young man clad in a navy blue uniform approached and asked to inspect my license. My license was in my backpack, and I had not yet pulled it on, so I removed it from the middle pocket and showed it to the Boulder County wildlife officer. Everything checked out, and I began my descent of the steep trail to the creek shortly thereafter.

Pocket Water Deluxe

After hiking a moderate distance I positioned myself along the edge of South Boulder Creek and pondered my fly choices. I was anxiously anticipating a green drake hatch, so why not go directly to a drake imitation? I asked myself this question and made the commitment. I tied a solitary size 14 parachute green drake to my line, and in short order I was netting rainbow and brown trout from the creek. The flows were 142 CFS when I arrived, but the water managers reduced the output from the dam to 125 CFS, while I was fishing. The air temperature was in the low seventies as I began, and probably peaked in the upper seventies by the middle of the afternoon.

Look at Those Ink Spots

My first seven trout were mostly browns with a couple rainbows in the mix, and all inhaled the parachute green drake. Apparently my imitation was close to what the resident trout were looking for, because the fish were sucking it in confidently. Number seven was an eight inch rainbow, and hook removal required the use of my hemostats, and I severely damaged the fly during the process. I replaced the productive parachute fly with another, but it seemed larger, and the trout were much more tentative as exemplified by a significant increase in the number of refusals. I managed to add two brown trout to the fish count, but then I switched once again.

Unusual Red Fin

In this instance I returned the parachute green drake to my fly box and replaced it with a size 14 user friendly. The Grillos user friendly contains two layers of thin foam, and I was hoping for improved floatation. The fly remained on the surface in fine fashion, and by the time I grabbed a boulder for lunch, the fish count had jumped to fourteen. Unfortunately the last fish before lunch severed the hackle on the user friendly, and I made a mental note to swap it for a fresh and undamaged fly after lunch.

A Brown Took My Fly Next to the Rock

I kept my word, but for some reason I abandoned the user friendly and tested a Harrop hair wing green drake size 14. The hair wing paid immediate dividends on a nice bankside pocket, but then it faltered and did no justify the extra effort required to track it in the swirling currents. I was interested to see how the large bulky fan wing of a comparadun played with the resident trout, and I assumed the large wing would be easier to track. My hunch was correct, and one small brown trout launched toward the comparadun and met my net in a brief amount of time. The comparadun then became a high maintenance fly, as the waterlogged abdomen and thorax required constant drying and frequent application of floatant.

So Vivid

View from Lunch

Once again I considered a change, and this time I reverted to the parachute style fly. During the winter I tied some parachute green drakes with moose mane tails and poly wings. Previously I used turkey flats for wings, but I shifted to the poly wing to create the illusion of more bulk similar to the naturals, as they fluttered and attempted to become airborne from the surface of the stream. The poly wing parachute drake was an overwhelming winner, and I stuck with it for the remainder of my time on the water, as I built the fish count to forty-eight. Yes, you read that correctly. I had a blast tossing the large single dry fly with my new Sage rod to all the likely fish holding locations, and in many cases the trout responded by attacking the size 14 fly. I spotted my first natural western green drake at 12:35PM, and their sporadic emergence continued until 3:00PM, when I reached my intended exit point. The catch rate slowed somewhat over the last hour, but how could the torrid pace continue?

Very Clear Pool

Top Shelf

On my return hike I stopped at several of my favorite hotspots, and I picked up three more drake eaters to move the count to forty-eight. I worked diligently to attain a fifty fish day, but during the last hour the interest in drakes seemed to wane, and in my last stand, I experienced only refusals. I was weary and faced more hiking, so I abandoned the goal of fifty and marched back to the parking lot.

Glistening Brown Trout

Another Trout Lair

On July 29 I sensed that I was on the cusp of a spectacular day, and August 3 pretty much confirmed that my intuition was correct. Of course, the forty-eight trout were on the small side, but I estimate that at least ten stretched to the twelve to thirteen inch range. All the trout sported vivid and bright colors, and I thoroughly enjoyed my day. The weather was perfect, the flows were improved,  and I never encountered a competing angler. My new fly rod performed admirably, and I particularly liked the way it cast and the flex that allowed me to confidently control the larger fish. I will reserve further judgement, until I attempt to land a sixteen inch bruiser on the four weight outfit. I love the green drake hatch, and the fish do as well, as all my catches consumed a green drake imitation.

Fish Landed: 48

South Boulder Creek – 07/29/2022

Time: 12:15PM – 1:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 07/29/2022 Photo Album

As I reviewed flows on the DWR web site prior to my trips to Boulder Creek and the Cache la Poudre River, I noted that the water managers reduced the releases from Gross Reservoir to the 168 CFS range. Based on previous experience, I knew that this level is high in the narrow canyon; however, I have enjoyed decent success at these levels particularly when green drakes and pale morning duns are active. July 29 was a bit early for drakes, but I suspected some early emergers could be on the creek. I decided to make the trip on Friday, July 29, 2022.

One small hurdle remained; however, before I could finalize my trip plans. We were waiting for a visit from our new HVAC guy, and he suggested that he could stop by in the 8:00AM – 10:30AM window on Friday. Jane had waited for him earlier in the week, so in fairness to our relationship, it was my turn to forego other activities. Finally, at 9AM Jane called to inform me that she received a text message from John HVAC, and he was under the weather and unable to fulfill the promised appointment. I was now free to resurrect my fly fishing plans, and I quickly gathered my gear and loaded the car and made the drive to South Boulder Creek. Five cars were ahead of me in the kayak lot. I quickly assembled my Sage four weight and scrambled into my gear and made the hike to the tailwater creek.

Yummy Pool

When I arrived at my chosen starting point, my watch displayed 11:50AM, so I decided to consume the lunch stuffed in my backpack, before I began my quest for wild trout. Once my yogurt cup was empty, I knotted a tan size 8 pool toy hopper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. I was prepared for terrestrials, yellow sally nymphs and pale morning dun nymphs. In the early going I witnessed refusals to the hopper, but then my flies began to click, and I landed four trout within the first thirty minutes. Two gobbled the hopper, and the hares ear and salvation produced one each. The first four trout landed were all brown trout in the six to ten inch range.

Early Take

By one o’clock the action slowed considerably, and refusals to the pool toy began to dominate. Since the fish seemed to be looking toward the surface for their meals, I decided to make a switch, and I converted to a double dry with a peacock hippie stomper followed by a yellow size 14 stimulator. The higher than ideal flows reduced the number of viable trout holding locations, and I was largely reduced to short drifts in bank side pockets, as I ignored the rapidly cascading flows in the middle of the creek.

Better Focus

The shrunken number of trout lairs caused me to advance up the stream more rapidly than usual, but the two flies clicked reasonably well, and the fish count elevated to nine. Two of the double dry fly attracted trout slurped the hippie stomper and three grabbed the heavily hackled stimulator. I sensed I was on the verge of a stellar outing, as a few mayflies made an appearance above the creek, and a couple were likely green drakes.

I photographed and released number nine, since it was my best brown trout of the day, and during this process the two dry flies twisted around the tip of my Sage fly rod. I grabbed the rod and executed a series of hand over hand movements, so that I could hold the rod in the middle and unravel the uncooperative dry flies. When the flies were free and separated, I reversed the hand over hand process to resume gripping the rod at the cork handle, but unbeknownst to me, the reel and butt end of the rod had dipped below the surface of the creek behind a large branch that was wedged between several large rocks. When I shifted my grip back toward the handle, the top of the rod elevated, and the current grabbed the reel and butt end and forced them beneath the branch, and before I could release, the rod snapped in the second section below the tip. It happened so fast that I could not react, and I sat down on the bank and grieved for a few minutes. Surprisingly nary a curse word was uttered, as I was depressed with the news, that I broke my second Sage rod of the season.

Broken Section, End of Fishing

Since I hiked a decent distance from the car, I had no backup with me, and climbing the steep hill to retrieve another rod, and then returning to the creek only to make the hill climb a second time was out of the question. I broke the rod down to four segments and hiked back to the parking lot. My fishing session ended after one hour and fifteen minutes and nine fish, and I felt I was on the verge of some outstanding action. When I returned home, I immediately filed a repair claim with Far Bank (the company that now owns Sage), and then I printed the QR code and address and packed up the broken rod to ship for repair.

Friday was a bittersweet day. I now have two Sage rods out for repair, as I approach the meat of the summer and fall season. I have a backup four weight, a backup five weight, and a five weight that my friend, Dave G., loaned me. I anticipate a heavy dose of small stream fishing, and having one four weight for this duty concerns me a bit. In a pinch the Loomis 8.5 foot five weight could also suffice in close quarters. Hopefully I can return to South Boulder Creek in the near future for a full day of fishing; while abundant quantities of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies feed the stream residents. A reduction of flows to the low one hundred range would also be welcome news.

Fish Landed: 9

South Boulder Creek – 09/10/2021

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/10/2021 Photo Album

The star of my fly fishing outing on September 10, 2021 on South Boulder Creek was the sunk ant. My history with the sunk ant is rather brief relative to my fly fishing lifetime, but it has recently climbed my fly rankings as a promising producer. Click on the sunk ant link to read more about my history with sunken ants, and you will also find the source of the pattern I choose to deploy.

But I am getting ahead of myself. If you read my previous post on Pine Creek, you know that my attempt to return to South Boulder Creek for a fourth time this summer was thwarted, when the Denver Water powers reduced the outflows from Gross Reservoir on Wednesday from 95 CFS to 15 CFS. This spooked me, because at the time of my decision on a fishing destination, the downward spiral on the graph was at 65 CFS, and I was uncertain how low it would go. I am also leery of visiting a stream after a dramatic change in flows, as it takes some time for the stream residents to adjust to their modified environment.

The DWR graph eventually settled at 11.1 CFS and remained at that level Wednesday through Thursday. On Thursday evening I searched through my South Boulder Creek blog reports on this site, and I found two from October 2017 that described my experience, when the flows trickled at 9.3 CFS and 10.5 CFS. I actually enjoyed double digit days in both instances, and this encouraged me to make the drive to South Boulder Creek on Friday morning.

11.1 CFS

The air temperature upon my arrival in the parking lot was 71 degrees, and I was tempted to pull on my wet wading pants and wading socks; however, historically me feet get numb at the small tailwater, even when I wear my waders, so I adhered to the wader approach, even though I knew I was in for a hot hike. I strung my Orvis Access four weight and descended the steep path to the edge of the creek; and, sure enough, the stream was flowing along at a reduced level from what I became accustomed to. Bare rocks and dry streambed characterized the view, but even at 11.1 CFS the creek was the size of some of the high mountain streams that I recently explored.


Early Winner

Parachute Ant Took Over

By 10:30AM I was perched along the creek ready to pursue the wild denizens of South Boulder Creek canyon. My blog posts highlighted the success of beetles and ants, and I was present on the creek one month before my 2017 visit, but I  decided to experiment with a Jake’s gulp beetle first. The size 12 foam terrestrial attracted attention in the early going, and I landed three nice brown trout, before the trout seemed to scorn my offering more frequently than they ingested it. On one of the 2017 posts a black parachute ant was on fire, so I exchanged the beetle for a size 18 black ant with a pink wing post. The low floating bug duped a pair of nice fish, but it also floated unmolested through some very attractive smooth pools. As my morning evolved, I spotted five yellow sallies, as they slowly glided skyward toward the streamside trees. Could this be a hot menu item?

Stealth Required

I once again swapped flies and replaced the ant with a size 16 deer hair yellow sally. The move paid quick dividends, and I landed five more trout to elevate the fish count to ten, as I found a nice flat rock on the south bank and chowed down with my lunch. Several of the trout attacked the yellow sally aggressively, when I twitched it across some shallow riffles, so movement was part of the program during the yellow sally phase.

Nice Width

After lunch I suffered a lull, and I no longer witnessed natural yellow stoneflies in the atmosphere, so I once again changed the game plan. I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line under the assumption that it was close enough to a green drake, that it would attract attention, if western green drakes were still active. A couple of aggressive feeders snatched the foam attractor, but refusals were also part of the equation. The foam hippie stomper is large enough to support a dropper, but I knew that a beadhead would create too much of a disturbance in the low and clear conditions, so I opted to tie on a sunk ant on a 1.5 foot leader. What a move this turned out to be!

A Rainbow Emerged from the Right Side

Out of the Shadows

For the remainder of the day I progressed upstream with the dry/dropper combination and boosted the fish count from ten to thirty-four. Friday afternoon represented the type of fishing I thoroughly enjoy. I fluttered casts to all the likely pools, pockets, riffles and runs; and more often than not the trout cooperated. The hippie stomper remained as the top fly for much of the time, but I also cycled through a parachute green drake, green drake comparadun, and user friendly green drake. Each green drake produced a few trout, but the South Boulder Creek cold water trout were not locked into green drakes with the same fervor that they displayed on my three prior trips. I returned to the hippie stomper after the green drake experiment, and it accounted for four eats, but the real star of the show was the sunk ant.

Lovely Spot Pattern

I was pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the shallow drifting sunken terrestrial. I was concerned that the fish would gravitate to the large surface offerings and ignore the small ant, but this was not the case. In several instances an above average trout attacked the ant, almost as soon as it entered the water, and this reaction always surprises me. Quite a few times I cast the dry/dropper to the top of some very clear shallow riffles, and near the tail I spotted a swirl and set the hook under the assumption that the trout grabbed the surface fly only to discover an ant embedded in the lip. Clearly a tumbling sunken terrestrial was not an uncommon occurrence in South Boulder Creek.

What a Pool!

By 2:30PM the sun was bright above and the heat in the canyon was oppressive. The trout seemed to take a siesta, and this angler felt like doing the same. My fish count was already locked on thirty-four, and the most recent fish came from deep slots that bordered oxygenated water next to structure such as large boulders. Quite a few small caddis flitted about on branches along the bank, so I forsook my treasured ant and replaced it with a size 16 deer hair caddis on a one foot dropper off the hippie stomper. I continued prospecting the double dry combination through some very attractive plunge pools and deep runs for another half hour, but the effort proved futile. At 3PM I surrendered to the heat and completed the hike back to the parking lot including the steep ascent at the end. I was a soggy piece of toast by the time I unlocked the tailgate.

Promising Deep Spot Beyond the Log

Friday was another fabulous day on South Boulder Creek. On September 10 I was forced to work harder than my previous outings. During those day I simply knotted a green drake pattern to my line and enjoyed the outstanding success. Of course I needed to respond to the conditions a few times, as I rotated through my green drake styles, but the solution to the puzzle was rather apparent. Friday’s success required adjustments, as the day progressed. I began with terrestrials and then shifted to yellow sallies and eventually settled on green drakes and sunken ants. 11.1 CFS dictates cautious approaches and long delicate casts, but Friday proved that success can be found at relatively low flows, and sunken ants were part of the equation.

Fish Landed: 34

South Boulder Creek – 08/30/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/30/2021 Photo Album

Another forecast of ninety degrees in Denver, CO had me craving a cold water wading destination. On Sunday night I checked the flows, and I stopped my research abruptly, when I learned that South Boulder Creek was tumbling along at 95 CFS. I visited the relatively close tailwater on 8/13/2021 and 08/18/2021 and enjoyed much success. Were green drakes still hatching, and could the canyon tailwater deliver similar results on August 30, 2021? There was only one way to find out. I made the trip to the Kayak Parking Lot below Gross Reservoir on Monday morning.

The temperature on the dashboard was already 71 degrees, as I pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight. Even though it was cooler than Denver, it was clearly going to be a warm day even in the shaded canyon tailwater. I was tempted to wet wade, but the cold bottom release water from the dam numbs my feet even with my waders on. I played it safe with waders, and of course quite a bit of perspiration was part of my hike in and out of the canyon.

Six cars besides mine occupied space in the parking lot, so I was concerned about competition and pressure, as I began the descent of the steep trail to the creek. I passed two anglers in the upper section and a pair of hikers walking a dog. In the middle section of the creek I encountered three senior fishermen with backpacks, as they congregated along the path, and that was the extent of human presence on my inbound hike. Perhaps the three gentlemen drove separately and met in the parking lot? That was the only explanation that made sense out of the comparatively few number of anglers given the presence of six cars. As one might expect, I was quite pleased to only encounter five other fishermen in spite of six cars in the parking lot.

Productive Water Type

By 11AM I was perched along the creek ready to configure my line to begin fishing. I began my day with an ice dub olive hippie stomper, prince nymph and salvation nymph. I was hoping the hippie stomper mimicked adult green drakes, the prince covered the presence of green drake nymphs, and the salvation nymph imitated the nymph stage of pale morning duns. Between 11AM and noon I landed one spunky eleven inch rainbow trout that rose and smashed the hippie stomper in some riffles of moderate depth. Needless to say the catch rate was not what I expected, but at least I was on the board.

On Display for the Crowd

After my standard lunch I resumed prospecting, and the creek structure changed, as the stream widened, and this translated to more fish holding lies with slower water velocity. In the thirty minutes after lunch I raised the fish count from one to six, and all but one were energetic rainbow trout. The salvation nymph became the main producer, and the turbulent oxygenated water perhaps explained the disproportionate quantity of pink-stripped trout.

Surprising Girth

By 12:30PM I spied a pair of natural green drakes, so in spite of enjoying a decent catch rate, I took the plunge and removed the dry/dropper arrangement and migrated to a parachute green drake. The first green drake that I knotted to my line displayed a narrow turkey flat wing and a short moose mane tail. This fly generated a couple of takes, but it was refused five times for each time a fish consumed it. I decided that the profile was too narrow, and I dug in my green drake box and extracted one of the new ones, that I tied last week. It possessed a white McFlylon wing and a clump of body-length moose mane tail fibers. The wing portrayed more bulk, and the tail was apparently a significant keying characteristic, because the trout responded in a major way to the new parachute green drake. With this fly on my tippet the fish count mounted to twenty-two. If one does the math, that is sixteen trout over two hours of fishing.

Asters Along the Creek

Featuring a Parachute Green Drake

During this time period I spotted quite a few natural green drakes; and, in fact, between two o’clock and 2:30PM, I observed more naturals than were seen during the entire time of my two previous visits. It seemed that the hatch reached a crescendo by 2:30PM and then abruptly reverted to the sporadic emergence that characterized the early afternoon time frame. The size of the trout that crushed the low floating parachute green drake was another fortuitous development, as brown trout and rainbow trout in the eleven to twelve inch range were fairly common.

Great Colors

As this fantastic fly fishing was transpiring, both my feet slid out from under me on a long angled and slippery submerged rock. I caught myself with both hands, before I fell in, but a bit of water trickled over the lip of my wader bib. Suddenly ice cold water ran down my legs and created a soggy foot bed for my woolen socks. The wet long underwear and socks actually felt fairly comfortable given the warm air temperatures. Once I gathered myself and took stock of the impact of the near dunking, I was ready to resume casting, but at this point I discovered that my lucky parachute green drake was MIA. I was not pleased and uttered a few choice words about my bout of bad luck, and then I replaced the green drake with another similar version with a poly wing and long moose mane tail. Later when I removed my waders in the parking lot, I noticed a strand of monofilament above my wading boot, and I was pleased to discover the long lost paradrake hooked into my wader cuff!

By 2:30PM the parachute drake lost its magic. The trout continued to inspect it, but most turned away in the last second in a rude lack of respect for my offering. It seemed that one out of every five looks resulted in a landed fish, with the others categorized as refusals. The number of looks were also spaced out causing my catch rate to plummet. On my previous South Boulder Creek visit, I converted to a green drake comparadun at this juncture, so I decided to execute the same ploy.

I replaced the parachute with a comparadun with a large deer hair wing profile, and suddenly the trout began to grab the size 14 fraud. Four additional trout rested in my net including a pair of twelve inch brown trout, and they all savored the green drake comparadun. Why does the parachute style work early and the comparadun late? Perhaps the low lying parachute with the long tail mimics the emerging green drakes early in the hatch? The long tail portrays a tail and trailing shuck, and in the early stages it takes longer for the drake to free itself from the nymph casing? As the air and water temperatures warm, the transition from nymph to adult speeds up; and, thus, the comparadun with its large full upright wing presents a more more fully emerged adult that fits the profile sought by the hungry trout. These are simply my own theories and not based on any scientific research.

Best Brown Trout of the Day

I landed a deeply colored brown trout at 3PM, and as I reached for my net, I realized that it was absent. I managed to release the trout without the benefit of a net, and then I tried to recollect, where I left the crucial fly fishing instrument. I removed my backpack, and inspected it to see if perhaps the ring pulled out of the handle, but the female end of the snap mechanism remained in place. This meant that I unsnapped the net to photograph and handle a trout, but I apparently never reconnected the retractor device. I waded downstream for fifty yards and surveyed the rocks on both banks and attempted to remember my last photo shoot. Alas, I never spotted the net, and I was forced to acknowledge that it was a lost item of equipment. I suspect that I disconnected it and dropped it in the water after releasing the fish, and I failed to realize that it was no longer tethered to my backpack. I mourned the loss for a bit, and then I decided to call it quits at 3:15PM. Handling and releasing trout without a net becomes proportionately more difficult, and I was not interested in harming South Boulder Creek trout.

Moderate Depth

Monday, August 30 developed into another solid day on South Boulder Creek. I landed twenty-six trout in four hours, and the fish count included a higher ratio of rainbow trout and trout that were a bit larger than my previous two visits. The green drake hatch was on time and heavier than previous emergences, and my imitations proved effective. I lost my favorite net, but I have a viable backup for future outings this week. Hopefully the green drake saga will continue for a few more weeks on South Boulder Creek, and I will be able to participate.

Fish Landed: 26

South Boulder Creek – 08/18/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/18/2021 Photo Album

I made a pledge to myself to return to South Boulder Creek the week that began with August 16, and today, Wednesday I fulfilled that promise. On August 13 I learned that the flows below Gross Reservoir were at manageable levels, and green drakes were making their presence known to the stream residents. Flows on August 18 remained at 102 CFS, and I took advantage.

When I arrived at the Kayak Parking Lot only one vehicle was present, and while I prepared to fish another car arrived. The temperature was already at 77 degrees, when I began my hike down the steep trail to the creek, and I once again strung my Orvis Access four weight. My smallest rod is always a good choice for small stream fishing, as it is not as taxing on my shoulder and elbow as the longer and heavier rods in my arsenal.


I was perched along the edge of the creek at 10:45AM, and after I configured my line with a tan pool toy hopper, prince nymph, and salvation nymph; I was ready to cast at 10:50AM. The air temperature was warmer on Wednesday compared to the previous Friday, and I was curious how that might affect the timing of the green drake hatch. On August 13 my early efforts with a parachute green drake and peacock hippie stomper were not effective, thus, I chose a dry/dropper combination with a pair of heavy nymphs.


Well, the shift to nymphing paid modest dividends, as I landed three small brown trout on the salvation, before I paused for lunch at 11:45AM. In addition to the netted fish I experienced quite a few refusals to the tan pool toy hopper. The fish seemed interested in surface food, but my hopper was not exactly to their liking. After lunch I shifted gears and removed the three fly set and opted for a peacock hippie stomper. The stomper did not generate action in a couple of prime pools, so I added a one foot leader and attached a size 14 gray stimulator for a double dry offering. The gray stimulator and hippie stomper enabled me to increase the fish count by a few fish, but once again looks and refusals outnumbered takes. I noted a couple of natural green drakes shortly after lunch, so I decided to migrate directly to my ace in the hole parachute green drake. I knotted the same fly to my line that produced twenty-two fish on Friday, and the fun began. By same fly, I mean the same type of fly and the same physical fly. After Friday’s battering the maroon thread ribbing was unraveled, but the wing post, hackle and dubbing remained in decent shape, although the abdomen closest to the thorax was down to bare olive thread.

Battered and Bruised Parachute Green Drake Lost the Hook Point!

Very Fine

The blemishes to the parachute green drake did not bother the trout in the least, and I proceeded to land another fourteen, before the hook point finally broke off ending a string of thirty-six fish landed on one fly. I suspect this may have been some sort of record for this long time angler. With my workhorse fly out of commission I dug into my green drake fly box and extracted another parachute green drake. This one had maroon ribbing and tightly wound dubbing with a dense hackle and a tall wing post. It looked ideal to me, and it worked fine for two fish, at which point the hackle climbed up the wing post, and I was forced to retire it from service. Unlike the previous Mr. Durable, green drake number two proved to be a fragile version of the pattern. I pulled out another brand new paradrake, and it generated a few fish, but the interval between landed fish extended. This circumstance was probably more attributable to the waning hatch than my fly choice, but I persisted with the solitary green drake approach and boosted the fish count to twenty-four.

Out of the Net for a Second

Green Drake Comparadun Produced

By now it was 2:30PM, and the bright sun warmed the atmosphere to the upper seventies. I was feeling rather tired, and it seemed that the fish were exhibiting the same fatigue. I did, however, witness a pair of natural green drakes, so I knew they were still active, In fact I saw one flutter on the surface nearby, and then it was promptly slurped by an aggressive eater. Perhaps my parachute version was not presenting the fuzzy profile of fluttering wings? I removed the parachute green drake and replaced it with a Harrop hair wing, which is heavily hackled similar to a stimulator. This was a great thought, but the trout showed no interest in the hair wing.

Head Macro

Should I abandon the green drakes? I was still seeing the occasional natural, so I decided to cycle through a few more of my green drake styles. First I tested a May break, which is a type of green drake cripple. This fly was difficult to track, and it never produced as much as a look, so it was quickly returned to the green drake fly box. I examined my box closely and decided to try a comparadun with a large and dark deer hair wing. The comparadun delivered success, and I stuck with it for my remaining time on the creek, and the fish count climbed from twenty-four to thirty-four. The trout did not jump on this fly in a manner similar to the noon to 2:30PM period, but the response was steady enough to keep me interested until 4:00PM. I made many more casts to each prospective holding lie, and many quality spots failed to produce, but if I persisted, I could dupe a trout here and there.

Horizontal Line on the Side

By 4:00PM I ran up against a natural breaking point, so I stripped in my flies and hooked them to the last rod guide above the grip. I was hot and weary and ready to call it a day. What a day it was! I landed thirty-four gorgeous wild trout. Three or four were rainbows, and the remainder were brown trout. I estimate that two rainbows and three brown trout stretched to the twelve to thirteen inch range, and the remainder were beneath the one foot cut off. Far and away the typical landed brown trout was in the nine to eleven inch range. All but five of the trout consumed a green drake, and two of the five non-drake eaters fell for a size 14 gray stimulator, which is a close relative to a green drake imitation. Once again moderate riffles and the tail of pockets and pools were the home to trout feeders. During the 12:00PM to 2:30PM period I could nearly bank on a trout, if I cast to one of these stream structures. I am proud to claim South Boulder Creek as my home water. If only the water managers would allow the flows to continue at the current levels.

Fish Landed: 34

South Boulder Creek – 08/13/2021

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/13/2021 Photo Album

Early August, western green drakes, and South Boulder Creek go together like pretzels and beer. Or at least that is what I thought, as I contemplated another fishing outing on August 13, 2021. The Denver Water managers seemed to have other ideas, as they sustained the flows at 180 CFS and above for all of July and early August. Imagine my excitement, when I checked the DWR graphs and learned that South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir was percolating along at 102 CFS. Game on. Were my expectations too high? Read on.

When I arrived at the kayak parking lot four other vehicles occupied spaces. The air temperature was 66 degrees, when I departed, and according to Weather Underground the high never exceeded seventy degrees, although it felt warmer with bright sunshine and very few clouds for most of my time on the water. I put together my Orvis Access four weight and began my descent of the steep trail to the South Boulder Creek canyon. As I ambled along the upper canyon, I passed five fishermen, and this accounted for all the cars. I was pleased with this circumstance, as it meant I would probably have the lower canyon area to myself. At one point another angler met up with me, since he parked at the Walker Ranch trailhead, but he cut to the stream quite a bit upstream of my chosen point of entry. Favorable weather, manageable flows and lack of competition portended a fine day of fly fishing. Would the trout and green drakes cooperate?

Nice Place to Start

I began my day at 10:00AM with a solo parachute green drake, but after prospecting four or five quality pools, I was forced to acknowledge that there was nary a sign of fish. Apparently green drakes were not present long enough to create the hoped for intuitive response to an imitation outside the emergence period. Or perhaps they were late, and I would not meet them on August 13. My confidence was a bit shaken. I added a hippie stomper as my front fly and followed it with the parachute green drake, but once again I was greeted with no response from the fish. Concern crept into my outlook.

Perhaps the trout were keying on green drake or pale morning dun nymphs? I rigged my line with a buoyant tan pool toy hopper and added a prince nymph on a four foot dropper. Finally I connected with a pair of trout, but the catch rate lagged and refusals to the hopper became a commonplace occurrence. I added a salvation nymph below the prince to gain depth, and the pale morning dun nymph began to click, as I raised the fish count to seven by the time I sat on a rock to consume my standard lunch. I was catching fish at a decent rate, but the results required constant movement, and I was passing over some prime spots with no netted fish to show for my effort.

Prince Nymph Produced

So Delicate

After lunch I exchanged the pool toy hopper for the peacock hippie stomper, and I swapped the prince for a hares ear nymph. This threesome moved the fish counter from seven to nineteen, and obviously the catch rate improved. The hippie stomper attracted a few fish, but the salvation was the main target of the trout. In many cases the hippie stomper generated a look or refusal, but persistent casting eventually fooled a trout into snatching the nymph particularly at the tail of a pocket or pool or in a riffle with over two to three feet of depth.

Ooh. Certain Trout Lair

So Dark. Ate the Stomper

By 1:30 I began seeing a few natural green drakes in the air above the creek, and the hippie stomper began to generate an increased number of refusals, and a couple of fish actually ate the attractor dry fly. I decided it was time to convert to a green drake. I knotted a size 14 parachute green drake to my line, and the fun escalated. In a testimony to how durable my fly was, I landed twenty-two trout, before I deemed it too ragged to continue presenting. I replaced it with another paradrake, but this one had brown microfibet tails instead of moose mane, and the catch rate lagged significantly. This change coincided with the end of the hatch, so perhaps it was the insect cycle and not the fly that caused the slow down; however, my observation told me that the moose mane version looked more like a natural. I plan to sort through my inventory of parachute green drakes to preferentially stock the moose mane versions.

Zoomed a Bit

Very Nice of S Boulder Creek

Between 1:30PM and 3:00PM I was supremely confident in the green drake imitation. All the prime locations produced fish, and the browns and infrequent rainbows inhaled the impostor with confidence. This was the torrid green drake fishing that I recalled from previous Augusts, and I was thrilled to be the benefactor of the sparse emergence.

Very Fine Rainbow Trout

Most of the forty-two landed trout were in the seven to eleven inch range, but I also netted a thirteen inch rainbow and a few twelve inch brown trout. The fish were all wild gems with brilliant and vivid coloration. In short, I had a blast working my way upstream and prospecting with the confidence-building green drake. Hopefully the flows will remain near the current level or slightly lower, and I plan to take advantage with another trip or two next week. I discovered that early August, western green drakes, and South Boulder Creek do, in fact, go together like beer and pretzels. While in a celebratory mood, I munched some pretzels and sipped a Red Bull on my drive home. Beer is taboo while driving.

Fish Landed: 42