Boulder Creek is fishing very well these days, but it is going through early spring changes. Fish are starting to move out of their winter lies, but slowly, particularly in the canyon. They are definitely more spread out in town. Surface strikes are slow, unpredictable, and sometimes picky. Midge hatches start the feeding activity, but BWOs, mostly small, are showing up too. Saw a couple of larger (first brood) BWOs. Fishing the surface midge hatch is like anywhere else: you have go small and drift very well.
Droppers are still the best producers, but they have to still be small and the canyon trout have been surprisingly picky. Yesterday, the winning fly (by far) was a green Tailwater Tiny #18. Town trout are eating a wide variety of droppers. All of this should change rapidly with the warming air and water.
I fished with a client in the morning until our lunch break at the big Thompson tail water. The morning was cold to start and the fish didn’t really respond to any flies until almost 10:00am. Our first fish took a small blue colored midge. Shortly after that we started seeing some midge activity and changed to a dry/emerger rig. We were getting consistent interest in this rig and stayed with it until lunch. We had a handful of fish landed by lunch. The dry fly was a Matt’s midge variation and the emerger was a mole fly.
The Blue River continues to be a top producer this spring. Flows have settled down to just over 100 CFS, but it’s still fishing great. At this point it’s no secret that there’s some great fishing going on in Summit County, so be prepared for plenty of company. Be courteous to your fellow anglers and try to give folks a little space or a high five. There’s plenty of open water to go around.
This particular Saturday was a family trip, so I got to the river a little late. With the big weekend crowds, all of the typical holes were occupied, sometimes by up to three anglers. This forced me to call an audible, which ended up working out just fine. Every fish I ended up catching throughout the day was in a foot of water or less. I slowly crept upstream, looking for fish along the edge of the river and then sight fished to them. By watching the fishes’ body language, or looking for a white flash of the mouth I could tell when to set the hook. Fish after fish came to net from within a foot or two of the shore. Another tactic that worked great was fishing upstream casting under the bridge just below the I-70 bridge. By using a micro New Zealand Strike Indicator, I could see what was happening, but not spook fish. Plus the ultra sensitivity of the wool relayed even the slightest take in the dark under the bridge.
Fly-wise things haven’t really changed since earlier in the winter. Your starting lineup should include some type of mysis in the mix, like the Minute Mysis, BTS Mysis, Charlie’s Mysis etc. We’ve had best success on sizes 16-18. Other small midges are also consistently pulling fish. Pure Midge Larva in red and cream, Black RS-2′s in #22, #22 Chocolate Emergers, #18 Two Bit Hooker, #20 Rainbow Warrior, and #22 UV Emergers are all winners.
Another one going back to the river.
This is an example of what to look for when sight fishing on the Blue river
This bow was targeted and caught within a foot of the shore.
With all the warm weather I decided to do some recon and see what Clear Creek looked like. Last time I had checked (during the last round of cold and snow) it had frozen up pretty solid. I was pleasantly surprised to find a wide open creek, even in the deepest parts of the canyon. There were some remnants of shelf ice along the banks in the darkest sections, but nothing that would make access tough. There is a lot of trail work going on in the canyon at the moment, so some of the normal sections are packed with construction equipment and people. This is contributing to the stain of the water, along with the north fork coming in from Black Hawk.
I stopped downstream of Mayhem Gulch and found some good looking holes. Flows are perfect right now for euro-style fishing. Even though it feels like summer at the moment to us, the water temp is still below 50, and the fish seem to still be holed up in their winter lies. Look for fish in the deep slack water behind structure and along the banks in less than a foot of water.
The fish seemed to like the attractor patterns the best, as the blood red squirmito and jigged prince nymph would actually make fish chase down the fly. Other patterns that pulled fish included rainbow warriors, black zebra midge and hippie midge.
After several days of melt, I went to Boulder Creek to check it out. As usual I took my favorite BC rod; a Sage 2wt Circa. By the way, the only rod better for BC than this would be made out of bamboo. There is a lot of work being done around and in the creek so combined with our recent melt there is significant stain in the water from Four Mile down. I started in the clear water above that but below the tunnel. Above the tunnel it is still pretty locked up, but that should change within the next couple of days as this heat wave moves through.
The water temp is predictably below 40 and the fish are generally on the bottom taking small insects. I got most of my fish on a #20 Tailwater tiny. Although, I got an inspection on a Hippie Stomper. One of the good things about BC since the flood is that there is a greater variety of fish species and size; like this yearling Bow:
I then decided to try the stained water and caught a few on a pink Squirmy Wormy with a gold bead in the first climbing area. I finished in the Kayak pools above Eben G where it was slow, but I did get to see two large Bows come up to kiss my Royal Chubby.
Consider the food, fish, and terrain, I’m expecting great things from BC this year.
Just when SBC was turning on and fishing great, the flows were abruptly dropped to just over 10 cfs. This makes fishing very tough on SBC. Low flows and clear water mean small bugs, light tippet, and long leaders. Fish will be congregated in the good pools and holding water. They will not be spread out like they normally are. Find good water and you’ll find fish. Although there are better options for fishing at this flow, if you are set on trying SBC bring 7x and an assortment of Juju midges, JUJU Emergers (NEW & HOT FLY), and small tailwater tiny’s in olive, red, and black. Very limited dry fly activity right now, but have a few midge dries just in case. As soon as they raise the flow here again, the bite will be on big time. Probably a couple of short weeks away. Call the shop if you want to check what they are doing with the flows.