Pine Valley Ranch Lake – 05/22/2024

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Pine Valley Ranch Park

Pine Valley Ranch Lake 05/22/2024 Photo Album

After a very productive day on Monday at Pine Valley Ranch Lake, I decided to return on Wednesday. On Monday I observed a ton of fish, and I logged my highest fish count of the year, so why not launch a repeat? With impending skin surgery to my right arm, my casting and pickleball arm, I expected to be out of action for several weeks, so I was anxious to slip in another day of fly fishing. The weather was forecast to be cooperative with highs in the low sixties near my fishing destination.

I arrived at the lower parking lot in the Jefferson County park by 10:15AM, and this enabled me to be fishing by 10:40 after a short hike to the lake. The temperature was 55 degrees, so I wore my fleece hoodie along with my Columbia long-sleeved undershirt. Once again I selected my Sage R8 four weight. I loved the feel of this rod, as I made an abundant quantity of medium range casts on Monday in windy conditions. I expected the same conditions on Wednesday.

Angled Tree Was Starting Point

I strolled directly to the south shore, and I had sixty yards of shoreline to choose from, so I settled at the spot, where a long tree angled into the lake. I immediately rigged with a peacock hippie stomper and a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. In the morning and early afternoon the lake was mainly smooth and calm under clear blue skies and direct sunshine. In spite of some focused fishing and a variety of retrieval techniques, I was unable to coax a strike from the resident fish. The fish were still there, weren’t they? At 11:30 the wind kicked up a bit, so I converted to a dry dropper with the hippie stomper, beadhead pheasant tail nymph and a zebra midge. I also experimented with a flesh colored San Juan worm and black mini leech, but none of the subsurface offerings created action. I chose the worm because two women and their very young children were catching fish east of me, and I overheard them mention worms numerous times.

Early Catch

As my futile fishing elapsed, I was entertained by two adult osprey. They circled and glided continuously over the lake, and I attempted to capture their graceful moves on a video. As I looked on, the osprey made four dives into the lake in pursuit of food. On one of the dives, it was pretty obvious that their hunt was successful, as I noticed a small fish dangling from the talons. After the catch, they disappeared for a bit, and I surmised that they returned to a nest to feed young ones. With my fly fishing in the doldrums, I was pleased to have an alternative activity to occupy my morning. If you click on the photo album link above, you can view a couple videos of the osprey.

Western End of the Lake

I paused at noon and ate my lunch on a large flat rock, and then I resumed my fruitless casting. I lost confidence in the dry/dropper approach, so I reverted to the double dry with the hippie stomper and a trailing olive stimulator. Once again I was stymied in my efforts to catch a single fish. I removed the stimulator and replaced it with a light gray size 16 comparadun. Why a comparadun? I have no idea other than it seemed like a good buggy surface fly to combine with the stomper.

Decent Fished Guided back to Home

The wind kicked up again, and finally a trout grabbed the comparadun, as it bobbed erratically among the small waves. For the remainder of the afternoon I increased the fish count from one to nine, as I cast thirty to forty feet from shore. In addition to the comparadun I tested a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, a size 14 light gray deer hair caddis, and a cinnamon body size 16 comparadun. Each of these trailer flies accounted for a fish, but I was unable to identify a consistent producer. The hippie stomper yielded four trout, but it was also the object of many refusals, and that was frustrating. For the last thirty minutes I removed the hippie stomper and replaced it with an olive stimulator while trailing the cinnamon comparadun, and this pair contributed three trout.

Looking Across

Unlike Monday very few of the netted fish responded to my short twitch technique. Nearly all shot to the surface to grab one of the dries, as they sat motionless for twenty to thirty seconds. Yes, it was a day that tested my patience. Between the long waits for action, dealing with the gusting wind that became a significant factor by 2:30, and unraveling several nasty wind aided snarls; I was severely challenged. A few of the landed stocked rainbows measured in the twelve inch range, but similar to Monday, most were ten to eleven inches in length. Although I was unable to match Monday’s success, I landed a decent number of fish, and the surroundings were spectacular along with warmer air temperatures. I rated it a solid day, and hopefully I can recover faster than expected from my skin surgery and return to fly fishing shortly.

Fish Landed: 9

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