I recently spent the day with fly anglers Dan and Michael on a one-mile private section of Tarryall Creek. Fog clung to the hillsides as we arrived at the ranch gate. And like most of Colorado, it had rained the previous evening. It’s little late in the year to see a monsoonal pattern, but we seem to be stuck in one.
Fortunately, this added much needed flow to the river system, and also cooled down the water. Upstream of the ranch sits Tarryall Reservoir, and the creek flows over the top of its dam. As the sun warms the reservoir during the day, the heated outflow to the creek can get a bit uncomfortable for the trout. But on this day, the water started at a trout pleasing 63°F.
Tarryall Creek below Tarryall Reservoir sits mostly on private land and we have access to most sections of the creek if you’re looking for this type of experience. We started fishing in the lowest portion of the property and decided to fish back to the parking area before lunch. The water down there is typical curvy meadow low-gradient type water… resembling some spring creeks I’ve seen. On this section, the bite was slower than I’ve seen in past seasons. But we managed a few smaller rainbow and brown trout before Michael tied into this fish on his first cast into a deep corner run!
The fishing picked up as we got closer to the parking area and barns. The fish were obviously sitting in the deep fast water, and the more of that type of water we found, the more fish we found. One theory… pike. In 2002 the reservoir was drained for dam repairs and the fish that occupied it drained into the creek below. With enough slow water and suitable habitat, the pike have set up shop. Trout that don’t know this little secret can fall prey to the pike in the slower sections. The other theory… water oxygenation levels. The warmer water is, the less dissolved oxygen it contains. Trout need a faster and more oxygenated flow to get their needs met.
Whatever theory was in play, when we started to hit the faster sections in the upper portion of the ranch, it was LIGHTS OUT. Even when water looked too quick to fish, we fished it. It was just hit after hit after hit. Later in the afternoon, the clouds rolled in and seemed to get the fish into a feeding frenzy. At one point during this hot stretch, the guys landed ten fish in ten minutes including a double on Dan’s rig!
These private ranch sections of Tarryall Creek sit less than two hours from Denver, but you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a different era of the American West. Structures from the 19th and early 20th century dot the hillsides and valley, and the landscape is striking. As a special bonus… mobile phones don’t work out there!