As we headed up 285 by Morrison, the clouds hung on the foothills and mountains like a child holding its mother’s hand. Great I thought fishing in the rain most of the day. But by the time we had reached the Tomahawk Wildlife Area, sunscreened, insect repelled and geared up, the day had turned partly cloudy. The air temperture was in the mid sixties and pleasant. These are the general conditions that lasted all day.
The flow was 56 CFS, the water gin clear and the bugs were cooperating. A large part of the South Platte thru Tomahawk is excellent caddis water. Tan and Black caddis both hatch but spotten Tan is predominant. John Barr’s graphic caddis emerger tied Charlie Craven style or John’s orginal style both work well trailed behind a larger fly. A dropper graphic caddis under an Elk Hair Caddis dry fly can also work well.
My friend Michael set up with a #16 Elk Hair Brownish Caddis dry and a #16 Graphic Caddis emerger. I used my hand tied fluorocarbon nymph leader down to 3X with a #10 Pat’s Rubber Legs then dropped to 24 in of 5X with a #16 Graphic Caddis. These are the setups we used most of the day.
We started fishing the large pool south of the last bridge after the green gate. Michael was at the tail of the pool. He made two casts and had a fish on the dry fly. I moved to the head of the pool to drop casts in the fast run feeding the pool. After figuring out how to get mends that would feed the rig past the back swirl area, I got several dead drifts along the bank. The third drift hooked up with a nice 12 fiesty rainbow on the swing out. I got him into the net. This fish had been tagged. It was the first time I have ever caught a tagged fish.
We fished this pool for about an hour hooking up with about 20 fish between us. Then we moved to the area just downstream of the fence below the bridge. I cast into the run feeding this pool and immediately had a fish on but lost him. This run yielded 5 rainbows for me and some 4 for Michael. Then we moved upstream above the bridge. Michael fished a large run / pool just upstream from the bridge. I moved to a rock with a pool behind it. This pool gave up 5 fish and Michael hooked up with some 8 or 9 fish on the swing downstream from me.
Just before breaking for lunch, I downstream drifted my rig three or four times under the bridge. On the last drift a nice 15 in brown hit one of the flies hard and exploded up into the air. At the top of the jump, he rolled off but it was a nice fish. After lunch, we worked upstream for about a half mile from the bridge hooking fish about every where we tried.
By this time it was about 4 oclock and Michael wanted to go but I talked him into 30 more minutes for me on the west side of highway 9. In those 30 minutes, I hooked and landed 12 fish. Nine bows and 3 browns. After changing to a #18 Barr’s graphic caddis, the action was even better than on the #16. If you are heading to Tomahawk in the next couple of weeks, try a #18 or #20 graphic caddis and a #18 caddis dry fly.
Total for the day was Michael 24 to 26 fish (mostly rainbows) on dry flies and for myself 35 to 38 fish (again mostly rainbows with a few browns) on nymphs using my hand tied nymph leader.
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