Time: 10:45AM – 5:00PM
Location: National Forest
After a promising start to my Flattops trip on my arrival day, Tuesday, I was rather excited for a full day outing on Wednesday, September 27. Would I be disappointed? For Wednesday’s adventure I chose a different section of the North Fork. The temperature when I departed from the Pine Cabin was 42 degrees, so I was in no rush to begin my fly fishing day. I was favorably surprised that the temperature was 57 degrees, when I pulled into the parking space next to my chosen trailhead. The sun was warming the atmosphere quickly, and the deep blue sky was devoid of clouds. I pulled on my rain shell for a bit of warmth, but I stuffed it in my backpack after thirty minutes of fly fishing, rock scrambling, and log rolling. My fly rod choice was my Loomis two piece five weight. The Loomis stick is shorter than my Sage options, and it offers a slower action, which I favor for casting large foam flies, dry/droppers and double dries.
By the time I was ready and hiked to the creek, it was 10:45AM, and I noted this as my start time. I knotted a size 8 tan pool toy to my 4X tippet and then added a 20 incher on a relatively short dropper. The two fly combination yielded four trout, before I paused for lunch at 11:45AM. Two were ten to eleven inch cutbows, and two were smallish brook trout. Two of the morning catch smashed the hopper and two nabbed the 20 incher. The beginning portion of the section I chose was characterized by high gradient; and, therefore, lacking prime deep pools and long runs, so I was reasonably pleased with my morning.
After lunch, however, my concern over a lack of action increased. Admittedly the creek continued to rush downward at a rapid pace, so attractive spots continued to be a scarce commodity, but I plateaued at seven after two hours of intense fly fishing. I decided a change was in order, so I elected to try a double dry that featured the trustworthy peacock hippie stomper along with a medium olive body size 14 stimulator. The stimmy attracted a fish almost immediately, but when I moved on to the lower end of a spectacular pool, I witnessed a long look and rejection from what appeared to be a respectable rainbow. Rather than moving on, I did what I rarely do, and I swapped the stimulator for a size 14 light gray deer hair caddis. I launched at least twenty casts to the sighted trout, and it looked a few times, but it refused to eat my offerings. I shifted my attention to the equally attractive top half of the pool, and I managed a very brief connection. After five minutes of frustration, I flicked a downstream cast beneath a branch, so that the dries drifted over my reluctant friend. It worked, and the trout rose and drifted back under the hippie stomper and eventually nipped it. I followed the entire act and set the hook expeditiously, but the rainbow cleared the surface and slipped free.
A few more pools failed to ignite confidence in the caddis, so at 1:15PM I replaced it with a salvation nymph on a short leader that remained from the double dry set up. I finally stumbled into fast action, and over the remainder of the afternoon I elevated the fish count from ten to forty-two! The hippie stomper and salvation were constants, but I also experimented with several flies in the middle position that included a tan caddis pupa, a yellow PMD emerger, an iron sally, an ultra zug bug, a yellow emergent caddis pupa, and an emerald caddis pupa. This entire group of add on flies probably accounted for three fish, but two were quite nice and deeply colored cutbows. The overwhelming favorites for the fish were the hippie stomper and the salvation nymph, and I estimate they split the catch 50/50.
What about the quality of the trout? It was outstanding. Approximately twenty netted fish were brook trout, and as expected quite a few were in the six to seven inch range, but I also played my share of ten and eleven inch trophies with hooked jaws and pumpkin colored bellies. The other twenty plus trout were robust wild cutbows, rainbows and cutthroats. In the latter stages of my outing I landed at least three gorgeous cutbows in the form of thick slabs that measured fourteen and fifteen inches. These catches were gratifying prizes. In addition, I probably landed ten rainbows and cutbows in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and these were much appreciated within the confines of the relatively small creek. The cutbows and cutthroats were deeply colored with that light copper background body and large black spots accented by a thin red stripe, red cheeks, and the iconic orange slash.
What a day! My slump on Clear Creek was in the rearview mirror, and hopefully my body can hold up for another full day on Thursday. The weather is forecast to be spectacular once again.
Fish Landed: 42