Every time I go back to Colorado I have to visit what came to be known as my home waters. Quite a number of people fish the South Boulder Creek. It runs right through Boulder and there are a couple access points up over Flagstaff. Most people fish near those access points and in town. I haven't fished in town so I cannot comment, but near the access points on Flagstaff, the fishing is tough. Too many people fish it so the fish are a little scarce and too smart for me.
I like to hike and get away from people, so a long time ago it occurred to me that there is a path along the river heading downstream. The farther I follow that, the farther from people I can get. Genius. Ever since I don't think I've caught fewer than 10 fish in a day, even fishing in March and November. In the dead of summer with flows between 75 and 200 the river generally produces 20-50 fish in a day to my hand. Some of them very respectively sized even!
Now that you know all that background I can get on to my outing. After fishing the Pan for five days I felt the need to catch even more fish! A friend of mine who still lives in Boulder was up for joining me so we headed to the river bright and early at 9am Wednesday morning. After a short drive a nice hike we arrived at my normal starting point. We both geared up and I told Mark to start while I filmed a little. He fished a hole that is usually quite productive, but apparently he can't perform under pressure. I filmed him for 6 or 7 minutes and gave up. Of course then he caught a fish. I don't think a career in film is in my cards.
I moved upstream a bit and started fishing the slower water near the bank. It's actually a lot of fun because in most spots there are overhanging trees so you have to carefully watch you backcast as well as make some creative casts to get your fly in under low hanging branches and behind rocks. I started getting some bites but it was still a bit slow. Only one fish every other run or so. I'll blame it on the high-ish water.
I noticed Mark moving upstream on the other side of the river. I'm still not sure how he managed to cross, because we were both wet-wading, and if you've ever wet-waded in SBC you know how bad it is. I'm not sure it ever gets above 45 deg, and My best guess is that it was around 40. Cold enough to hurt for a long time before you go numb. And once you're numb you have to be careful to not stay out of the water too long or your legs and feet will begin to burn as feeling returns. Anyway it was really convenient that he was on the other side of the river because at 200cfs you really cannot fish the whole stretch on your own. I was also impressed that Mark actually fishes as fast or faster than me. No one else I have ever fished with moves upstream, leaving uncaught fish in their wake as fast as I do.
Back to the point, we each moved upstream to a big open spot in the river where I always put people I'm bringing here for the first time because there are a ton of fish and some relative pigs there. I decided at this point I would fall in the river, and commenced to do so as Mark missed a bite that put him 25 feet up in the tree above. Not a good start. But after we both recovered, we each caught a couple. Mark hauled out a chunky 14 inch rainbow, which is about as big as they get here. Then we proceeded to fish the continual pocket water.
I'm still trying to figure out why it is that I love fishing pocket water. I did some on my trip the days before at the Pan and loved it. Hitting it here also was a ton of fun. I think it has something to do with having confidence that there really are fish where I'm fishing. If you fish a wide open river you really have no way of knowing where the fish might be...unless you've fished it a number of times before. And this goes to my further theory of why I am good at pocket water, and why other people I fish with are better at other places/styles. My buddy Jonathan always seems to outcatch everyone when we go to a horrifically busy part of the colorado river. Brady usually outcatches me whenever we go to new, highly-fished places (after a day or two we even out). I'm still working my theory out in my head but it will probably be a philosophical post in coming weeks. You'll just have to wait, sorry.
But I kept fishing my way upstream and kept pulling small fish out from most small pockets I deemed fishable. I also lost quite a few bites and it has lead me to consciously try to work on a problem I have. I am a very excitable person (people who know me laugh) and every time I get a bite on a dry I want to pull the fly right out of the fish's mouth. I promise, I am working on it. But I did catch a number of fish and I also did my best to try and keep count, which I generally give up on after I've caught 6. That, for some reason, is the magic number where I usually lose count. As I fished my way upstream I wasn't sure if I was on 14 or 15, then it was 17 or 18, eventually I was confused if it was 23 or 24.
My final guess on fish count was right around 30 give or take 2 fish. Nothing larger than 14", and a few smaller than 4" that were launched out of the river even with the 3wt I borrowed for the outing.
It was great to be home, and it really makes me want to start looking for new jobs in the Denver area. All in due time, though. In due time......