I can only describe this morning's conditions as perfect. In addition to a bright blue sky that one can only find in Colorado, the Poudre has dropped to an ideal level and the water is running crystal clear. To top it all off, we've finally gotten a break from the searing heat in the past couple of days, and it was cool enough this morning for a light sweatshirt (the green and gold of the Rams, of course).
A virtual swarm of grasshoppers have been mechanically gnawing away at my vegetable garden for the past week, and as I reached to retrieve my fishing net from it's hook in the garage, I noticed a grasshopper lounging carefree on the handle. I'm not generally one for "signs," but the proverbial light bulb flashed in my small brain, a clear signal to try a hopper/dropper set up for the morning.
In retrospect, I think it was the right idea, poorly executed. I don't fish a whole lot with hoppers, and as a result I have very few to choose from in my fly box. Negligence on my part, for certain, but I just don't fish them very often. I located a generic-looking hopper pattern - basically some foam and rubber legs - and tied it on with a size 18 pheasant tail nymph as the dropper.
The action started quickly, with two rainbows taking the pheasant tail on the first three drifts. I wasn't terribly surprised, as the PT has been a hot fly for me lately.
After an hour or so, I noticed that fish were starting to rise and hit bugs on the surface, none of which were hoppers/terrestrials. Then, out of nowhere, a fish went after the hopper. Too slow on the uptake. I drifted it again, and through the clear water was able to see a small trout giving chase to the hopper. He darted toward the bug, and then turned away at the last split second. For the next 20 minutes, the scene replayed itself with several fish rising to the hopper only to turn their noses at it at the last second.
Time for a change in strategy. Fish were still surfacing, and I considered that maybe the idea was right, but the choice of the hopper as the lead fly was wrong. I decided to replace the hopper with an elk-hair caddis. It was a better match for the surface flies, and quite a bit smaller. I shortly found that the caddis was going dominate for the rest of the day. Time and again, trout in the 10-12 inch range nailed the caddis, some quite dramatically. I landed one 12-inch rainbow that had a serious chip on his shoulder about something, because he fought as though he were a 30-inch lunker. He completely consumed the caddis, and went aerial a good three times in addition to stripping line like a champion.
After about a dozen fish, I pretty much forgot about the nymph, which was problematic because I became so focused on the caddis on the surface that I'm pretty sure I missed a couple of strikes on the nymph.
At about 1:00, the tubers started rolling through, and I called it a morning after losing the PT on a back-cast into the trees behind. All in all, I think the caddis/PT combination might be pretty productive on this part of the river.
I'm also embarassed to say I haven't ventured up the canyon yet this season, other than a quick overnighter on the South Fork. Never seem to have the time to venture up there, and don't enjoy the "combat fishing" on weekends. From what I've been reading, however, it's probably high time I got in the old Ford and made that trip. Some folks have been reporting staggering numbers up there.
Overall, a great morning. The river is fishing great, and the water is ideal. Hope to find a big one here or there sometime soon.