The day started out wearing a beautiful blue sunny sky in Denver at 6:20 AM as I headed to pick up my friend Michael for our second trip to the Tomahawk Wildlife Area. This site is one of my favorite to fish. Generally a reasonable population of fish, good scenery, a challenging stream and this time of year good wading conditions.
Air temp at 6:30 AM was 60 which got into the low 80’s at Tomahawk. CFS was 62 which should mean some good fishing. I was looking for a day much like our last trip on 7/28/10.
We parked in the last lot at the end of the access road which was particularly rough this year. After gearing up, we followed a trail across the meadow toward the stream. Eventually we arrived at a spot between State land and private land. The stream was open there so we fished it a bit with no luck. Then climbed over the up and over to the public area. Michael and I were both fishing dry flies. I had a yellow foam hopper on a 5x tippet. The water was clear and the runs against most bank areas were 2 to 3 feet deep. Plenty deep enough to hide a 20+ inch brown or several smaller fish.
My dry fly casts using short 1 foot double hauls were dropping against the bank edge and bouncing into the water or just off the bank. Today was an on day for my casting. A good day just to cast even if the fish did not co-operate. Michael worked a couple of bends out in front of me. Then I followed working the same water with a different fly. I changed to a greenish body fly that I thought was a bit flashy. Still no hits.
Catching up with Michael at a good pool, he was working two fish. One of which appeared to be about 14 inches. The fish were working the water column in the middle almost exclusively. Obviously insect activity was going on even though nothing was happening on the surface.
Leaving Michael to work his fish, I waded across below him to work the next pool and run at the tail out. This was an interesting area. The feedin created a small pool with foam and backwater against the far bank, a large slow pool with back water in front of me and a middle run feeding into a deeper bank run.
My dry fly finally raised one small 6 inch fish that snapped at the fly. Then nothing. So I switched to a plain gold ribbed hares ear #16 on top and a small #20 gray RSII on the bottom. After many drifts thru the feedin along the foam line, I coaxed a 10 inch brown to the hook. The deeper run along the tail out yielded nothing. Following the stream for another couple of bends, I found another deep bank run with a good tail pool. This one had a couple of visible fish. I got some follows on my nymphs but no takers.
Back upstream, I found Michael still working his fish. He had changed to a dry dropper combination. With the last rig, the bigger brown hit the dry fly hard. When the fish headed for cover, Michael’s leader and rig parted company. Rigging up again, Michael started working the remaining visible brown. Finally this brown did take the fly and we got it to the net. It was a nice fate 13 or 14 inch brown. Then lunch time.
After lunch, we went over the up and over on the west side of the Highway 9 bridge to the west side of Tomahawk. The section from the fence to the first couple of bends is often productive. Especially so when the water is at 60 to 80 CFS. Michael worked the first pool and I went to the bend pool upstream. Picked up a couple of nice 10 to 12 inch browns. Then an excellent cutbow with a great red slash on the gill plate in the next bank run upstream. This run was a good 3 to 4 feet deep and half the stream wide. Coaxed the cutbow from under the bank. Michael was upstream and caught a couple of nice bows.
Time to head toward the car. But I wanted to try the small runs under the bridge. These two small runs about 1 foot deep gave up a 13 inch brown and an 8 inch brown. All in all a good day. Lots of exercise, good fresh air and sunshine.
Life is good.
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