Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sprague Lake – 05/18/2024

Time: 12:45PM – 1:45PM

Location: Western and northern shoreline

Sprague Lake 05/18/2024 Photo Album

I made the turn on to the Sprague Lake parking lot access road, and I instantly regretted my decision. The place was jammed with tourists. I crossed the bridge and made a right turn, and immediately I could see that cars were parked along the quasi-shoulder. I headed to the parking lot, but the three cars ahead of me stalled, as they waited for a car to depart from a space; and, thus, provide an open parking spot. I knew I was not going to snag a spot in the lot, so with no cars coming towards me on the one-way loop, I shot straight ahead for twenty yards and made a quick U-Turn and then secured a spot on the shoulder along with the rest of the mob.

I gathered my gear and hiked the short distance to the lake, and I was on the western shoreline. The trail that followed the lake was heavily trafficked, and I grew concerned about my ability to execute backcasts among all the hikers. I strode along the western edge of the lake while heading north, and I finally saw a gap with no trees, where I felt I could toss some casts. This part of the lake was quite shallow, so I decided to wade in a bit to generate clearance and enable shorter casts to deeper water. I was ten feet from shore, and I was now able to discern that the shallow depth continued out for quite a distance, so I decided to move on to the north shore, where I recalled from previous visits that the depth was greater. I attempted to lift my right foot to step backwards, but both my feet were now mired in the muck. The weight of my upper body shifted, but my legs did not follow, and I took a quick fall into the lake. I immediately righted myself, but it was not before some cold water spilled over the top of my waders. My wader belt contained most of the puddle, but some moisture managed to trickle down to my long underwear. Fortunately it got absorbed, before it reached my feet and socks, so I was spared the worst case scenario of sloshing feet. Adding to my state of distress was the pack of tourists who stopped to watch me fish, and they were now treated to a close up view of my pratfall. They kindly asked if I was OK, and I never heard laughter, although that probably commenced, after I departed.

Sprague Lake Under Overcast skies

What should I do now? I paused to assess the damages, and I determined that my right sleeve and right chest were very wet, but the water inside my waders was somewhat contained, so I gritted my teeth and decided to fish on. When I approached a small outlet stream, I paused to wash the mud off my right hand, and then I moved a short distance, until I was beyond the handicapped platform. Of course, by now some dark gray clouds moved in and blocked the sun, and this led to some gusting wind and a riffled lake surface. I carefully waded into the lake for fifteen feet, and I began laying out medium range casts. I was careful to glance backward before each casting action to make sure there were no human beings or bushes to interfere with my efforts. I fanned a series of casts from right to left, but the whole exercise struck me as quite futile. The waves and glare made it extremely difficult to follow the fat Albert, and the wind was causing the moisture in my shirt to evaporate, and this in turn was creating a significant chill in my core.

Brown Trout Was a Big Surprise

I decided to surrender, and I began to strip the hopper back toward me in rapid fire spurts. The hopper was actually skimming the surface, when a fish rose and swatted the imitation. This, of course, sparked some deep thoughts, and I removed the hopper and nymphs and converted to a double dry with a peacock hippie stomper and an olive body deer hair caddis.  When ready, I tossed the double dry in the vicinity of the aggressive follow of the hopper, and whack, a splashy rise consumed the hippie stomper. I was shocked, but I maintained my presence of mind long enough to set the hook. I expected an eight inch brook trout, but this fish was obviously larger than that as evidenced by its feisty effort to break free of my line. After a couple strong runs, I gained the upper hand and slid a wild thirteen inch brown trout into my net. I waded to the shoreline to snap a photo, remove the hook and release the fish; and as I was doing so, a group of Asian hikers approached. They were quite fascinated by my fish, and in broken English asked what type of fish it was. I informed them that it was a brown trout, and as they looked on, I allowed the prize catch to swim away to freedom. I suppose they were horrified to see such a nice piece of meat return to the lake.

Poised to Return

I was now optimistic about my prospects for additional action, so I once again fanned casts from right to left. The sky darkened again, and gusts of wind created mini waves. I allowed the flies to rest, and then I imparted quick strips or long strips, but none of these actions created any interest from resident fish. Once again I was quite chilled and some shivering began, so I decided to call it quits. Dry clothes and the warmth of the car were far more appealing than standing knee deep in a lake in wet clothing with hundreds of park visitors watching my every move.

Of course, when I returned to the car, the sun reappeared, and I questioned my hasty exit, but I returned to my senses and ended my day. After I removed my waders, I jumped in the backseat of the car to change out of my wet underwear, and of course a man was in the truck behind me with his engine running. In addition , a small herd of elk appeared in a little valley on the other side of the road, and a parade of tourists holding cameras and phones joined the proceedings. I exercised quite a bit of caution in my change over, as an arrest for indecent exposure would have punctuated my day with another dose of ill fortune.

The fishing on Saturday was not very exciting, but I encountered quite a few offbeat experiences to provide grist for an interesting report. Lakes and tailwaters are clearly my only options for the next month or more.

Fish Landed: 1

South Platte River – 05/08/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 3:15PM

Location: Cheesman Canyon

South Platte River 05/08/2024 Photo Album

Four days of wind had me on edge and yearning for a day of fishing. Wednesday weather was not ideal, but at least the wind subsided, although the temperatures were forecast to be on the cold side. When will I ever be able to once again fly fish without wearing a hat with earflaps?

I checked the weather in Cotopaxi and Salida and Lake George, as I searched for a lower elevation fishing destination that might provide warmer temperatures. Lake George forecast highs in the forties, so I quickly eliminated that cold spot. The Arkansas River locales showed promise with temperatures in the low fifties; but I invited my friend, Nate, and he camped and fished the Arkansas over the weekend, so he was burned out on that large river. What about lakes? I scanned my list of lakes at lower elevation that would be ice free in early May, and I settled on Pine Valley Ranch Lake. When I proposed that spot to Nate, he countered with the South Platte River at Deckers or Cheesman Canyon. I pondered this, and came to the realization that the weather in those South Platte destinations would be similar to Pine Valley Ranch due to their proximity, so I agreed on the South Platte River.

I met Nate at a Park and Ride on Wednesday morning, and we continued on to the Cheesman Canyon Trailhead parking lot. Our preference was Cheesman Canyon with Deckers our back up, but we were fortunate to snag a parking space in the Cheesman lot. Fourteen vehicles preceded us, so we knew that we would encounter company on our river trip.

The dashboard thermometer registered 45 degrees, so I pulled on my long sleeved thermal undershirt, fishing shirt, fleece hoodie, and light down parka. For head gear I snugged on my billed cap with earflaps (will it ever be left behind?). I stuffed my fingerless wool gloves in my parka pockets, and then I assembled my Sage One five weight, and I was ready for action. Nate also wore layers, and he decided to carry two rods into the canyon; a light three weight for dry flies and his fast action Douglas four weight for dry/dropper and nymphs.

We completed a 1.5 mile hike and found a spot among the massive rounded boulders to begin our day of fly angling. I rigged up with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, flesh colored San Juan worm and size 18 beadhead pheasant tail. Nate spotted some large fish in a pool a bit downstream from our starting point, so he shuffled over to the river to begin casting his four weight. As I rigged my indicator nymph set up, Nate returned with a frown on his face and held up his fly rod. Instantly I recognized the cause of Nate’s sadness, as one of the sections of the rod was split in two. Nate broke his rod, and he was not even certain how it happened. What can one say to comfort a fellow angler, who encounters such misfortune at the outset of the day? The only positive was the presence of his three weight that he transported into the canyon along with the four weight, so he had the wherewithal to continue fishing albeit with an undersized three weight fly rod.

Gorgeous SpotsAnother Before Lunch Brown Trout

In the hour before lunch we progressed up the river, and I was able to land three quality brown trout. All three grabbed the beadhead pheasant tail, and all sported deep yellow coloring, and the size range was between twelve and thirteen inches. All three were hooked by blind casting, and the trout seemed to materialize from a sandy bottom, where I was unable to observe fish of any kind before casting.

Number Two From Here

After lunch Nate crossed the river, while I remained on the side next to the main trail. In this way we could work upstream in parallel rather than adopt a hopscotch approach. The river at 270 CFS was easy to fish from both sides simultaneously. I suffered through a long fish drought between 12:15 and 2:30PM, as I cast repeatedly to long sweeping runs, deep current seams and moderate riffles, but the fish were averse to approaching my offerings.

Nate Focused After CrossingLooking Down on Nate from High Above in the Canyon

After this long fishless period, I paused and replaced the San Juan worm with an orange scud. Voila! Not long after the transition, my indicator dipped, and I swiftly raised my arm and connected with a burly brown trout. This fifteen inch fighter proved to be the best fish of the day, and upon inspection in my net I realized that it sucked in the orange scud. It was gratifying to experience success so soon after a fly change. The prize catch emerged from a short but deep trough in front of a submerged boulder in an area that frankly looked rather marginal. I thanked the fishing gods and moved farther upstream.

Lemon Butter Brown, Best of the Day

One hundred yards beyond my fourth catch, I approached a long sweeping run that angled away from my bank and then curved straight down the river. I began flicking backhand casts to the top of the run, and allowed the nymphs to tumble through the slower moving deep center trough between two rushing deep runs with current seams. Suddenly the indicator dipped, and I was connected to another head-shaking brown trout that also measured in the fourteen inch range. In this case the fighter displayed the beadhead pheasant tail in its lip.

Last Fish Was a BeautyHome of Number Five Was Straight Ahead

I fished on for another fifteen minutes, but I was unable to repeat my success story, so I hooked my fly to the rod guide and called it a day at 3:15PM. My feet were chilled as was my core, and I was ready for the two plus mile hike back to the parking lot. Meanwhile, Nate was across from me, and he eagerly agreed with the decision to leave. He landed one very nice rainbow on the day, but he was overwhelmed with frustration. The broken four weight forced him to utilize his three weight, and the combination of the weighted dry/dropper, wind and undersized rod led to an abundant quantity of tangles. Nate suggested that he probably spent more time untangling his line than fishing.

Scenic View on Return Hike

Our return hike took one hour and twenty minutes, and the parking lot had thinned considerably. We quickly removed our waders and prepared for our return trip. My expectations for a day in Cheesman Canyon are always tempered by the selectivity and wariness of canyon trout. A five fish day in the canyon is a huge success in my opinion, and the quality of the brown trout was first rate. The weather was definitely chilly, but for much of the time I was shielded from the worst wind. One section that ran east to west between sharp bends challenged me with a headwind, and this in turn led to some significant shoulder fatigue. It had been quite a while since my last visit, and I was reminded of the beauty of the wonderful state that I live in. Spaced out ponderosa pines, massive round boulders, and red sandstone gravel are the signature qualities of the canyon, and I love them all. Five wild trout were icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 5

Clear Creek – 04/08/2024

Time: 2:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 04/08/2024 Photo Album

A high of 59 F on Monday April 8 prompted me to entertain the idea of a fishing trip. Of course, Monday, April 8 is notable as the day of the solar eclipse. Here in Denver the experts determined that 70% blockage of the sun was expected. The peak partial eclipse was supposed to develop at around 1:30PM.  Jane and I played pickleball in the morning, and upon my return I ate my lunch and loaded the car for fishing. As I was doing so, my neighbors appeared in the alley along with their dog, and I asked if they looked at the sun. They responded with an enthusiastic yes, and they asked if I had, and I replied that we failed to purchase eclipse glasses, My neighbor, Josh, immediately walked toward me and offered one set of their glasses. I stretched them across my regular sunglasses, and I was quite amazed at the image. Roughly 2/3 of the sun was covered in black. I returned to the house and offered the glasses to Jane, who was equally impressed with the partial eclipse image. I am so pleased that we did not pass up eclipse viewing, even a 70% event. The next full eclipse is on the calendar for some time in 2044.

Once my solar viewing was complete, I drove to Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden. I wish I could say this was uneventful, but the short trip required two detours and a ten minute wait due to construction in the canyon. My decision to check the maps app before departing proved to be a very worthwhile act.

The temperature in the canyon, when I arrived at my parking space, was 53 degrees, so I bundled with a long sleeved thermal undershirt, fishing shirt, North Face light down parka, and my rain shell. I wore my billed hat with ear flaps for ear coverage. Nearly the entire fishing time was in the shade of the canyon, and aside from my hands and feet, I was reasonably comfortable. For my fishing tool I fit together my Sage four weight, and after trudging along a fisherman and rock climbing path, I descended to the creek.

I began my quest for canyon trout with a yellow size 8 fat Albert and trailed a 20 incher and emerald caddis pupa. I prospected my way up the creek for 1.5 hours, and I am disappointed to report that I hooked only one small brown trout on the fat Albert. I tossed the dry/dropper in all the likely fish holding locales, however, the stream residents, if they, in fact, existed ignored my nymphs. I did observe a couple looks at the fat Albert, but the subsurface action was nonexistent. For the end fly I cycled through a beadhead hares ear nymph, ultra zug bug, black balanced mini leech, a salvation nymph and a go2 bright green caddis. My confidence fell to new depths, and I vowed to not return to Clear Creek for awhile.

The water was a bit off color, and I never saw signs of insect activity, so I speculated that low level snow melt from recent storms was impacting the water clarity and temperature. I tried lengthening the dropper leader near the start to obtain deeper drifts, but all my changes in flies and tactics failed to reverse the adverse fortunes. In my two most recent outings I got skunked and then landed one fish, so I am due for a change in fortunes. I will probably pass on fishing during the 2044 solar eclipse.

Fish Landed: 1

Arkansas River – 03/20/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 3:45PM

Location: Big Horn Sheep Canyon

Arkansas River 03/20/2024 Photo Album

My last fishing outing was on 03/12/2024, and my friend, Howie, and I experienced a skunking on Bear Creek. The largest snowstorm of the year swept through Colorado on March 14, and that halted any thoughts I had of visiting a local stream. I celebrated my birthday on Saturday, and for some unknown reason I was wiped out by sickness early Monday morning. This circumstance also interrupted my fly fishing plans; however, by Wednesday, March 20, the first full day of spring, my health and the area rivers were ripe for a day of fishing.

I evaluated my alternatives, but I quickly selected the Arkansas River below Salida for my trip. The weather predicted a high in the mid-fifties with single digit wind speeds, and the fly shop reports documented low and clear river conditions along with mention of midge hatches and some signs of baetis nymph movement. I was itching for a shot at bigger water and potentially larger fish, so I made the three hour drive from my home in Denver to the Big Horn Sheep Canyon section below Salida. On Tuesday evening I perused my blog reports for the Arkansas River from previous visits in March, and this set my expectation for five to ten fish while bottom dredging with stonefly nymphs. It’s early season, so any sort of action was welcome after the March 12  shutout.

When I arrived at the roadside pullout, the dashboard temperature registered a cool 42 degrees, so I slipped into my long sleeved thermal undershirt, North Face light down coat, and rain shell. I chose my billed New Zealand hat with ear flaps, and this bundled outfit kept me warm throughout my time on the water. It was particularly valuable in the first hour, before the sun worked its magic on the air temperature along the river. I fitted together my Sage One five weight rod, and I hiked toward a favorite location on the river only to find another angler stationed in one of my productive long deep runs. I only saw a few parked cars along the highway, but apparently one of the fishermen had the same idea about a fishing site as me.

I stealthily cut down to the river and turned right, so that I was situated fifty yards above him, and I quickly rigged my line with a fish skull sculpin and Mickey Finn streamer. I intended to test out one of the new black ghosts I tied recently, but I left them in the boat box in the car, so I defaulted to the next best classic streamer in my collection, the Mickey Finn. I covered a twenty-five yard section of the river characterized by moderate velocity current and intermediate depth riffles, but I was unable to generate even a follow. I decided to make a longer cast and sweep behind a large exposed rock, but in my haste I lost awareness of my position, and hooked my backcast on a tree limb. I waded to a spot beneath the tree and attempted to spot the two flies, and I was able to identify a section of monofilament. When I moved closer, however, I realized that this was the leader from another unfortunate angler. I stared at the other branches on the limb, and in a short amount of time I saw my broken off streamers. I placed my rod out of harms way, and I scanned the bank for a retrieval instrument.

There it was. An eight foot long dead limb was beneath the tree, so I grabbed it and attempted to bend the small branch that possessed my flies, but it was still alive and not brittle, and, therefore, not prone to breakage. I changed tactics and used one of the protruding nubs on my retrieval branch, and I began to rake downward over the flies, and on the fifth attempt the tip of the branch broke off, and my flies tumbled to the earth, where I was able to capture them. I quickly snipped off the tippet and returned them to my fleece wallet and began my fly fishing day anew.

I was now below a long narrow island that divided the river in half with 75% of the volume on the left and 25% on the right, so I approached the right braid. The low and clear nature of the river precluded streamers, nymphs or large bulky dry flies, so I elected to knot a peacock body hippie stomper to my line. This fly has become a favorite, and I love its buoyancy and visibility and relatively small size for a foam attractor.

As I knotted my new offering to my line, I noticed a couple nervous spots across from me at the tail end of the long pool. It was difficult to discern whether the movement resulted from fish, current waves, or the wind; but I was preoccupied with tying on my fly, so I did not study the scene. Once I was ready, however, I was quite sure that a couple fish were subtly sipping minute food from the surface or just below the surface. My fly was probably not what they were tuned into, but I tossed a couple casts up and across nonetheless, and crush, a fine, wild brown trout of thirteen inches inhaled the attractor dry. This was too good to be true.

I refreshed the fly, and cast a bit higher up in the center current seam, and, whack, another carbon copy brown trout slid into my net. I felt like I was in a dream. Again I dried my stomper, but successive casts failed to elicit a response, yet the regular feeding pace increased, and additional trout showed their presence above to the left and right of the center current. Apparently I duped the dumb ones or the exceptionally hungry members of the school, and now the discerning eaters were teaching me a lesson. I stripped in my hippie stomper and added an eighteen inch section of 5X leader to the bend, and then I attached a CDC blue winged olive (CDC BWO)  as the second fly.

For the next forty-five minutes I fired casts to all the sites of recent rises, and I netted an additional four brown trout. Now I was beyond dreamland, and these were all quite nice trout in the thirteen to fourteen inch range. Two temporary hookups added to the action along the channel pool. When I arrived at the top of the pool, I spotted the dorsal fin of the largest feeder in the area, and my heart rate elevated in anticipation of wrangling with the big daddy. Alas, after four or five drifts that did not tempt an eat, I watched the behemoth, as it slowly cruised to a spot of hiding.

I glanced at my watch, and it was now 1:10PM and way beyond my lunchtime, so I found a dry spot on the north bank among some rocks and munched my sandwich and carrots. I observed sporadic blue winged olives, so this confirmed the source of the earlier eating frenzy. From past experience I knew the area across from me was a prime spot, as the river deflected off a high vertical rock wall. A shallow riffle was upstream of the rock, and then a nice run and pool of moderate depth developed. I carefully waded across the river and positioned myself at the upper end of the area, and I fed downstream casts through the entire zone, but the fish were not rising, and the attractor did not work its magic.

By two o’clock I adjourned to the north bank and progressed up the river while prospecting attractive sections of moderate depth and current velocity. Lacking risers, I abandoned the CDC BWO, and I replaced the double dry setup with an emerald caddis pupa and RS2. In a nice long pocket behind some exposed rock, I hooked and landed a thirteen inch brown trout that aggressively attacked the caddis pupa, but in the process of landing, the RS2 broke off. I replaced the RS2 with a size 18 baetis imitation that I tied many years ago from my Scott Sanchez book, and I continued my upstream progression.

After twenty minutes of fruitless casting, and as the wind began to gust in a more significant way, I cast along the seam next to some faster water. I had replaced the hippie stomper with a yellow fat Albert for better visibility in the afternoon glare, and suddenly the fat Albert dove. I reacted with a quick set, and the battle ensued. In this case I eventually hoisted a fifteen inch rainbow trout into my net, and it displayed the twenty plus year old baetis in its lip. Wonders never cease.

By 3:15PM I reached my crossing point, so I carefully shuffled across and climbed the roadside bank and then investigated the long smooth pool below the high rock bluff next to the car. I was unable to spot fish, and had it not been so close to quitting time, I would have switched to a deep nymphing rig. But I was weary and close to the end, so I stayed with the dry/dropper and fished the twenty-five yard section of moderate riffles over a rocky bottom that led into the pool. Nothing. I concluded that my leader was too short and rather than bother to lengthen it, I swapped the emerald caddis pupa for a weighted size 12 20 incher with a beadhead. That did not work either, so I reeled up the slack and called it quits at 3:45PM.

What a day! This was easily the best day of the year so far. Eight fish in 3.5 hours of fishing is not exceptional, but the quality of the fish was outstanding with a size range from twelve to fifteen inches. Every fish was a wild and healthy battler, and I was thankful for that. Icing on the cake was landing six beauties on dry flies. Fishing successfully to rising fish on March 20 is something to embrace and remember.

Fish Landed: 8

Classic RS2 – 12/13/2023

Classic RS2 12/13/2023 Photo Album

Review my post of 12/05/2022 for additional background information on this fly as well as a link to older posts. RS2’s are a must have in Colorado due to the preponderance of baetis and small mayfly hatches. This fly is a model of simplicity, and the classic version contains nearly one hundred percent natural materials.

After I counted my supply, I decided to manufacture six additions, and I gave two to my friend. Blue winged olive hatches are around the corner, and I am prepared and can hardly wait.

Langavantn Lake – 05/20/2023

Time: 7:30PM – 8:00PM

Location: Mostly the inlet area

I spent thirty minutes waded into the lake at the end near the inlet, as I was casting and stripping the black ghost with the cased caddis larva as a trailer. I was not successful, and I became quite chilled standing in the waist deep water.

Fish Landed: 0

Clear Creek – 04/30/2023

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 04/30/2023 Photo Album

I had a blast on Monday in Eleven Mile Canyon in spite of weather that was only moderately more comfortable than my previous wintry trips, and I anxiously looked forward to additional time on the water, before the true runoff kicked in. Nearly all the drainages in Colorado are at 100% or greater of average snowpack, so snow melt could be strong and lengthy in 2023. Unfortunately two storm fronts rolled through the state during the week, and this held the temperatures down to levels that precluded this angler from fly fishing.

I typically avoid fishing on weekends, but my itch to wet a line was so overwhelming, that I made the short drive to Clear Creek in Clear Creek Canyon on Sunday, April 30. The temperature in the canyon was in the low to mid sixties, and the flows were in the 40 CFS range. The creek displayed a tinge of color but not enough to impact the fly fishing.

Slow Velocity and Depth

I was lucky to snag a prime parking space in spite of a cadre of rock climbers, so my timing must have been fortuitous. I quickly prepared to fish and assembled my Sage four weight, while I pulled on my fleece hoodie, since the narrow canyon encompasses quite a bit shade.

Way Up There

Good Start

I carefully picked my way down a rocky path to the edge of the creek and rigged my line with a yellow fat Albert, a prince nymph and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the thirty minutes before lunch I connected with and landed two small brown trout that grabbed the hares ear, and I was off and running.

Nice Pool

I could continue recounting my progress and fly changes, but in summary, it was a slow day in the canyon. I switched flies often, and I was never able to identify an offering that generated more than one or two fish. I cycled through the fat Albert, classic Chernobyl ant and peacock hippie stomper on top. For the subsurface offerings I experimented with the prince nymph, hares ear, ultra zug bug, emerald caddis pupa, and go2 sparkle pupa. As I mentioned, each produced one or two fish. Toward the end of my time on the water I tried the hippie stomper trailing a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, but the double dry only yielded the tenth fish that sipped the hippie stomper. I was curious to try the caddis adult, because quite a few naturals fluttered about, when I grabbed the streamside boulders.

Best Fish of the Day

I observed three or four rises during my upstream migration, and I possibly noticed a blue winged olive or two in the air, but switching to a baetis in the fast and narrow canyon felt like a futile move. I did try a bright green go2 sparkle caddis, and I jigged it and fished it on a swing, and I managed to fool one aggressive feeder at the tail of a small pool.

My Future

In roughly three hours of focused fly fishing I landed ten small trout. Nine were browns, and one lone rainbow graced my net. The rainbow was the largest of the ten and probably measured in the eleven inch range. Refusals were prevalent with both the fat Albert and the size 8 classic Chernobyl ant, and this circumstance explained my shift to the hippie stomper.

Soft Grip

Sunday was a tough day. I covered a significant amount of water, and the wading was quite treacherous with numerous large and slippery boulders to negotiate over and around. The fish seemed to be looking to the surface for food, but I was unable to establish a consistent producer. I felt quite fortunate to achieve double digits on this perplexing day.

Fish Landed: 10

Iron Sally – 11/28/2022

Iron Sally 11/28/2022 Photo Album

Check out my post of 01/09/2022 for additional information on this favorite nymph that occupies my line quite frequently. My confidence in this fly has expanded dramatically during the past several seasons. The flash of the iron sally is a high powered fish attractor, but it also imitates golden stonefly and yellow sally nymphs. These naturals are present in significant numbers during the June through August time frame, and I take advantage by tumbling this fly through attractive trout lairs. The trout of the Arkansas River and Eagle River are particularly receptive to a dead drifted iron sally. The abdomen construction with ultra wire makes this fly relatively heavy, and it is, therefore, a good option when I seek a deeper drift on my dry/dropper rig.

Lots of Flash

My supply experienced a decent amount of shrinkage, so I knuckled down at my vise and manufactured nine additional nymphs split between size 12 and size 14. Bring on the stonefly hatch in 2023.

New Ones from the Vise

South Platte River – 11/01/2022

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Deckers area

South Platte River 11/01/2022 Photo Album

After a cold week with no fly fishing opportunities and a visit to the physical therapist resulting from groin and leg pain, I was exceedingly anxious to return to a river for mental relaxation. I find that total focus on the enterprise of catching fish is a therapeutic activity to eliminate stressful thoughts. The high temperature was forecast to reach the upper seventies in Denver, and this translated to the sixties in the South Platte River drainage. I chose the South Platte as my destination due to lower elevation and a higher ratio of rainbow trout compared to other streams along the Front range. My remaining decision was which section of the South Platte to visit. The flows at Lake George were 175 CFS and the flows farther down river at Trumbull were 134 CFS. I had more confidence that I could enjoy success at the lower levels, so I made the drive to the Deckers area on Tuesday morning.

As I turned on to the river road at Nighthwak, I decided to check out the upper special regulation section from Deckers to Scraggy View. This turned out to be an eye opener, as I was astounded by the number of vehicles occupying every available parking space. How could there be so many anglers on a Tuesday; a weekday in November? I suppose the favorable weather and proximity to Denver and Colorado Springs were the explanation.

134 CFS

At any rate, I made a U-turn at Deckers and reversed my tour to the open water below the special regulation section. Parking spaces were available, but a fair number of fishermen apparently copied my thought process of moving downstream away from the crowds. My extra survey of the upper section delayed my arrival, so I decided to consume my lunch before engaging in my highly anticipated fly fishing endeavor. After lunch I rigged my recently repaired Sage One five weight, and once I was prepared, I hiked down the dirt road to a stretch with faster current around large boulders to begin my quest for autumn trout.

After Release

I began my effort with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, a size 16 salvation nymph and a sparkle wing RS2. Between noon and 3PM I moved upstream at a steady pace and cast the three fly dry/dropper to all the likely trout holding spots. During this three hour time frame I landed two rainbows and one brown trout. The largest was a rainbow of around twelve inches, and the other rainbow and brown were in the seven to ten inch range. In addition to the three netted trout, I experienced temporary connections with three other fish. The fly fishing on Tuesday was not exactly a torrid affair. In fact, it was quite slow. During this time I broke off a couple RS2’s and switched between a sparkle wing and classic version. For the top fly I concluded that I needed more weight to place my drifts nearer to the stream bottom, so I paused to consider options. Initially I was prepared to grab a weighted 20 incher, and although it certainly would have provided ballast to sink the RS2, I suspected it was not a menu item for South Platte residents.

Soft Egg

Surely spawning was in progress by now on the tailwater drainage, and wouldn’t rainbow trout take advantage of drifting brown trout eggs? Why not give an egg fly a try? I never tested egg flies other than early season trips to the North Platte River below Grey Reef. I inspected my fleece wallet and spotted four egg flies and plucked one constructed with soft Otter egg material with a white fibrous veil. I replaced the salvation with the egg fly and kept the RS2 in place and resumed casting. On the first couple drifts I noticed that the highly visible peach-colored egg was floating six inches below the surface, and I desired a deeper bottom bouncing presentation, so I crimped a small split shot to the line just above the egg. My offering now consisted of a tan pool toy hopper, peach soft egg with a tiny split shot above it, and a sparkle wing RS2.

The Run Ahead

This combination created some bumps and a temporary connection, and these encounters held my interest, but the egg and RS2 ploy was not a revelation of November fishing success. The few bumps, however, prompted me to persist, and I moved around a ninety degree bend and began to fish a section that featured faster, deep runs and pockets. I picked up my pace and allotted three to five casts to each targeted location, until I arrived at the upper section, just before the river made another ninety degree bend to the right. Here a nice long run curled around the corner and continued for thirty yards parallel to the road before tumbling over rocks. Next to the current, that was easily noticeable by the bubble line, there was a fairly wide slow-moving shelf pool that displayed four to five feet of depth.

Home of Hook-Jawed Beauty

I launched a long cast to the soft band of water next to the bubble line, and I thought I saw a rise to the hopper and swiftly elevated my Sage One to set the hook. The set was accurate, and a very respectable trout began to dive and thrash, as it attempted to disengage from my fly. Initially I thought that the fighter was foul hooked, but as the battle continued, I could feel the main pull from the mouth, and once the hook-jawed brown rested in my net, it was clear that the egg fly was embedded in the corner of its mouth. What a shock to land a sixteen inch brown on an egg fly late in my day! I snapped a gallery of photos of my fish of the day and prepared to fish out the long run before calling it a day.

Love the Orange Fins

I waded fifteen feet, so that I could cover the midsection of the long narrow shelf pool, and I once again launched some long casts to the area three feet to the left of the bubble line. Whoa! The hopper dipped suddenly, and I set the hook, and I was elated to connect with a second hook-jawed brown trout that also chomped the soft egg. I congratulated myself on my good fortune, but at the same time I began to wonder how many positive fishing outings I missed through my fly fishing career by not defaulting to egg flies? This brown was every bit as fat and mature as the previous, and I snapped off a few shots to document my success.

Looking Down

Home of Number Two

I was about to turn around and hike back to the nearby car, but I observed a nice wide riffle section in the center of the river just below the right turn. Earlier casts to these sorts of areas were mostly futile, but I decided that this would be my end of day prospecting. Some glare on the surface made tracking the hopper for the first five feet difficult, but the fly was easily observable over the bottom two-thirds of the riffle. I executed five fruitless drifts, and I was about to quit, when I initiated cast number six. Just as the hopper emerged from the glare, I spotted an aggressive slurp that created a small wave, and I raised my rod with a solid hook set. The recipient of the hook prick immediately curled its body and surfaced, so that I could see the wide pink stripe of a rainbow, but before I could even consider celebrating, the brute broke off the hopper and the egg fly and the RS2. It was a clean sweep, and I used this disappointing turn of events to amble back to the car. I reeled up my line, and when I inspected the end, I noted the telltale pigtail curl of a malfunctioning knot.

Tuesday on the South Platte River was a slow and disappointing fly fishing adventure, until my persistence paid off with two very respectable brown trout and an escaped rainbow. The unanticipated effectiveness of the egg fly was very gratifying, and I have already added tying egg flies to my winter fly tying agenda. Five trout in 3.5 hours is a below average catch rate, but the weather was perfect for the first day of November, and I found some space that contained nice trout to entertain me. November 1 was a success in my book.

Fish Landed: 5

Clear Creek – 08/01/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 1:30PM

Location: West of Idaho Springs

Clear Creek 08/01/2022 Photo Album

If you read my blog post of 07/29/2022, you know that I broke my Sage four weight fly rod on South Boulder Creek. When I returned home, I immediately filled out an online warranty claim with Sage and packaged my broken rod and mailed it to Bainbridge Island, WA. The broken rod was a sentimental favorite, as it was the first graphite fly rod that I purchased, when I moved to Denver. It was a 490-4 LL, and it served me well for at least thirty years. I am anxious to learn, if Sage can repair such an old rod.

Since my fly rod inventory was down to one Orvis Access eight foot four weight, I made a trip to Charlie’s Fly Box on Saturday, and I walked out of the store stunned and the owner of a brand new Sage R8 nine foot, four weight. Most of the shock came from the sticker price.

By Monday I was recovered from my state of depression and anxious to follow my commitment to focus on high country streams and tailwaters. I decided to make a relatively brief drive to Clear Creek, as the location I selected was at high elevation and flows remained quite robust. I am disappointed to report, however, that my outing was once again short circuited by a ridiculous angler error. Read on.

Small Pool Ahead

I arrived at the pullout high above the creek at 9:45AM, and by the time I assembled my Orvis Access four weight, hiked to my starting point and attached my flies; it was close to 10:30AM. The sky was perfectly blue, and the temperature was cool and in the sixties. By late morning the sun dominated the sky, and the temperature warmed, but then some heavy clouds moved in and kept the atmosphere cool during the early afternoon.

Pink and Lime

I began my search for gullible trout with a medium olive hippie stomper and beadhead hares ear nymph, and the combination delivered positive results. By the time I paused for lunch at 11:45AM, the fish count rested at eleven. All the landed trout were cutthroats and cutbows, and three hammered the hippie stomper, and the remainder nabbed the hares ear. Nearly all the fish were in the six to ten inch range with possibly one or two that stretched the tape to eleven inches.

Wild Beauty

After lunch I decided to experiment with a double dry. The hippie stomper drew periodic interest, but many of the strikes came in the form of refusals. I snipped off the hares ear and added a size 16 gray deer hair caddis on a twelve inch dropper.

Cutthroat Haven

Between 12:15PM and 1:30PM I flicked the dries to likely fish holding locations and moved the fish counter from eleven to twenty-four. I had a blast, as I moved quickly with only two or three casts to marginal areas. Eventually I learned to bypass the small and short pockets, as they produced only sub-six inch fish or no fish at all. The deeper slow moving holes next to logs and boulders were the spots that delivered trout. Of the thirteen early afternoon trout landed, three chomped the stomper and the remainder attacked the caddis adult.

Perfection with Fins

By 1:30PM I fell into a nice rhythm, and the fish count was improving steadily. It was at this time that I landed a very nice cutthroat that was probably my largest of the day at twelve inches. Because of its beauty and size, I paused along the bank to photograph it and carefully released it into the current. The spot I chose was at the tail of a nice pool and just above a narrow chute of fast water and small pockets. Somehow in the process of releasing the fish and unhooking the flies, the net slipped into the creek, and it was unclipped from the retractor on my backpack. I stabbed the water quickly, but I failed to get a grip, and in a fraction of a second the net floated downstream. As I pointed out, I was above a narrow chute, and the net gained speed and tumbled down the rapids. I quickly placed my rod on the rocks and began to scramble along the bank, but I was losing ground, and I began to fear for my physical well being. I could easily sprain an ankle, or even worse, fall and break something.

Lovely Red Cheek

I returned to the origination point of the runaway net, and I gathered my sungloves, camera and rod and began to wade downstream. I was banking on the net getting caught in a tree, log jam or shallow section; and my eyes searched anxiously for any exposed portion of the net. After .5 to .7 of a mile I encountered three successive stream improvement devises that spanned the entire creek, and I was certain  the net would appear; but, alas, no sign of it presented itself, and I conceded that my relatively new $100 Wolf Moon net was donated to the wilderness or some downstream beneficiary.

I was physically exhausted from the intense downstream wading exercise over extremely slick rocks, and I was mentally distraught. All I could think about was breaking my favorite rod and now losing my Wolf Moon net. I now realize why I purchased cheap nets up until this last purchase. I gave up my pursuit, and I hiked back to the car, after ending my day at twenty-four trout by 1:30PM. Once again I was forced to quit early, and similar to Friday I was on the verge of a very productive day.

Fish Landed: 24