North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 03/01/2024

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek 03/01/2024 Photo Album

A projected high in the mid-60’s in Denver motivated me to plan a day of fly fishing on Friday, March 1, 2014. I debated between Clear Creek and the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, but a wind icon on Weather Underground for Idaho Springs prompted me to choose the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek. I recently underwent physical therapy for an annoying case of tennis elbow resulting from overly aggressive pickleball sessions, so I was cautiously interested in testing my elbow’s reaction to fly casting.

I arrived at the parking area for my chosen section of the creek, and the thermometer registered 51 degrees, so I pulled on my Columbia long-sleeved thermal undershirt, fleece cardigan and North Fork light down parka. A constant wind swirled through the parking lot, so I was pleased to have the layers, although I was concerned that I would overheat during my 1.5 mile hike.

My concern over being overdressed was somewhat valid; however, I was rather happy to have the layers for most of the day and especially while positioned in the shade of the canyon walls, when the wind was gusting. I began my quest for St. Vrain trout at 11:15AM with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, prince nymph and salvation nymph; however during the forty-five minutes before I broke for lunch, I managed to avoid landing any trout. Although I may have been deceived, I think two fish elevated to look at the fat Albert, but they were sightseers and not eaters.

I sat in a sunny location along the creek to consume my small lunch, and then I proceeded to advance up the creek at a steady pace, until I quit at 2:30PM. The wind was a significant nuisance, as it gusted regularly and pushed my casts backward or sideways. This circumstance affected my accuracy and forced me to make more casts than usual, and this in turn raised my fear of elbow strain.

During my three hours on the creek I managed to land two trout, and I connected temporarily with three others. All but one of the interactions with trout were surprisingly related to the fat Albert. The first landed fish was a respectable twelve inch brown trout, and the big fat Albert was prominently displayed in its lip. Number two was a small brown and also a fat Albert chomper in the eight inch range. Toward the end of my time on the water, another brown trout gobbled the fat Albert, but it managed to shake free after a short fight. My last stop was a gorgeous deep pool with wide riffles feeding into a deep run. After failing to interest trout in my dry/dropper arrangement, I broke out one of my recently completed Mickey Finn streamer flies. I fired at least twenty casts across the riffles and allowed the streamer to sink, before I stripped it back with varying cadences and twitches. It was fun to watch my new creation, but the trout demonstrated zero interest in my classic streamer offering.

Most of my success stemmed from the fat Albert, yet I persisted throughout the day with subsurface offerings. I began with the prince nymph and salvation nymph, and then I cycled through a 20 incher, emerald caddis pupa, juju baetis, and apricot egg. I was shocked over the lack of interest in the subsurface offerings. The flows were 25 CFS and very acceptable for March 1. I covered a significant amount of stream mileage, and I focused on areas with depth and moderate to slow current. The trout that rose to the fat Albert did so after quite a few drifts, and this was probably an indicator of the lethargic state of the fish due to the cold water temperatures. Two fish in three hours is definitely subpar, but March 1 is quite early in the season, and my expectations need to be moderated. Normally i would expect to spot more fish or spook fish while wading, and the absence of this sort of activity makes me question the fish density in the North Fork. I will avoid this destination for the remainder of the pre-runoff time period. I avoided the loss of flies, I did not get hurt, and I did not damage any equipment; so all was not lost on March 1, 2024.

2 thoughts on “North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 03/01/2024

  1. Ken

    I’m not a fly fisherman, but still enjoy your articles so much. It’s fun to get a detail tour of the state’s rivers/streams and read about your success, whether it’s fish in the net or just your description of the landscape. Thanks again for sharing, best of luck this coming year.

    1. wellerfish Post author

      Wow, Ken. I’m rather amazed that a person who is not a fly fisherman would enjoy my stream reports. Thanks for the kudos. Dave

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