Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The old stomping grounds

Last weekend I was back in Boulder, Colorado for a brief fishing trip.  On a side note, I also defended my Ph.D. thesis, but that wasn't the important part of the trip.  The important part was, of course, the morning of fishing I weaseled out.  I wanted to head back to my personal area favorite the South Boulder Creek up on top of Flagstaff and below Gross Reservoir.  There is a secret portion of that river that few people hit, and thus it is full of hungry and aggressive fish.  I think you can pretty much throw anything in the river and catch on it.  I've even had fish try to eat my hot orange indicators while nymphing on multiple occasions.

I managed to convince Kevin to go with me by promising him good luck; he's new to the fly fishing sport.  I checked the flows that morning and saw that it is apparently winter now.  Good fishing up on SBC starts when the flows drop below 150cfs, give or take.  On this morning the flow was a whopping 14cfs.  Welcome to winter.  But we headed up the mountain on what was a beautiful bluebird winter morning, with a dusting of snow on the ground up higher.  After a 20 minute hike from the parking lot we put our gear together and started tossing fake bugs into the trickling water.

I managed to spook a few fish from some slow flowing water while hiking a few yards downstream, but pulled a few small ones from other places.

 I worked my way upstream, hitting all my best holes and some other places that looked good in the low water.  It didn't take too long for me to realize that all the action was going to be subsurface...way subsurface.  Most of the bigger fish were at the bottom of the deeper pools.  With that in mind I added a second dropper to get enough length to get down there.  I also decided to us my go-to winter pattern, the zebra midge.  It always produces, at least on the SBC in wintertime.

On the next cast after adding the zebra midge, I caught a nice fish.

On the next cast after catching a fish after adding the midge, I caught another bigger fish.

It was on at that point.  I caught quite a few nice fish in the deeper sections, and managed to lose a few really nice ones too.  Of course I also managed to sacrifice a few flies to the gods of the river bottom, despite the low flow.

In all, I have to admit winter fishing can be even more entertaining that in the late fall when everything is optimal.  Sure, I can catch 30-40 fish up here when things are good, but it's really as simple as throwing your flies where things look promising.  If there are fish there, they will eat no matter what you tie on.  In the winter things are more difficult, but at the same time sort of easier.  In such low flows about 70% of the river is not even fishable because it is 2 inches deep.  Thus I only have to fish the obvious sections.  On the downside the water surface is much flatter and the flow is slow, which allows the fish to see my approach much clearer and the takes are more subtle.  But being sneaky adds a bit of fun in my opinion.  Yes, I spooked quite a few nice fish, but the additional requisite for stealthiness made it an even more enjoyable experience.

Hopefully I'll get out there again soon!