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Fly Fishing South Boulder Creek – Colorado

South Boulder creek is a wonderful fishery located near the front range of Colorado. Although the trout here are generally smaller, there is a large fish population. In just about every pool and run, you can find trout that are feeding and willing to eat flies.

South Boulder Creek is a healthy fishery, with many insect hatches throughout the year. For residents of Denver and Boulder, it is one of the closest trout streams available. Although it is close to the front range, it is a beautiful creek that feels like a world away.

If you enjoy small stream fishing with plenty of solitude, South Boulder Creek is a perfect spot. There are many access points available to anglers, which we will cover below. Many of these access points do require a hike-in, so be prepared for that.

South Boulder Creek Access

South Boulder Creek starts up in the Indian Peaks wilderness, as it flows past the Moffat Tunnel. This is the upper reaches of the creek, and there is still plenty of fishing access here. Off of East Portal/ Tolland road, you can fish throughout this section – the “Interpretive Site” is a good place to park for a days worth of fishing. Around the Interpretive Site, you can find plenty of willing trout holding in pools and pocket water.

The creek then flows past Rollinsville, and is mostly private below the town. Here, Lincoln Hills fly fishing club offers private access for club members only. It is very expensive to become a member here, and I don’t actually know anyone who has fished it.

The creek then flows through Pinecliffe, with limited access in this small town. After this, it winds its way down to Gross Reservoir, which is a large lake just outside of Boulder, Colorado. Don’t be fooled, the creek has just begun – below Gross Reservoir Dam flows the South Boulder Creek tailwater, which offers the best fishing (in my opinion).

Most anglers should focus on the section below Gross Reservoir. It offers prolific insect hatches and plenty of good holding water. If you want to fish the upper stretches of this tailwater, you must park at the Kayak Run which is right off of Gross Dam road. This is located at 4368 Gross Dam road. From here, you can hike down into the tailwater.

To access the middle stretch of the tailwater, park at the Walker Ranch Loop trailhead. This is located at 7701 Flagstaff Road. This is a longer hike that will put you lower down than the Kayak Run.

You can also go even lower by using the Ethel Harrold trailhead. This trailhead is located at 226 Bison Drive. This will put you at the top of Eldorado Canyon. From here, you can work your way upstream towards the Walker Ranch section.

You can also access South Boulder Creek even lower, through Eldorado Canyon. I like to park at the Rattlesnake Gulch trailhead and fish up and down. Although Eldorado Canyon offers good fishing, I really prefer hiking into the upper stretches mentioned above. Eldorado Canyon can get very crowded, which can subtract from a good fishing experience.

Flies To Use On South Boulder Creek

As far as Colorado insect hatches go, South Boulder Creek has just about everything.

Spring insects include: Midges, Blue Winged Olives, small Stoneflies and a few Caddis

Try Zebra Midges in sizes #18-#22, JuJu Baetis in sizes #18-#22, Pheasant Tails in sizes #18-#22, Pats Rubberlegs in a #14, and Elk Hair Caddis in sizes #18-#20.

Streamer fishing can also be productive in the spring. Try small Woolly Buggers and Sculpzillas.

Summer insects include: Pale Morning Duns, Green Drakes, Caddis, Yellow Sallies, Stoneflies and some Hoppers

Try Melon Quills in sizes #16-#18, Foam Drakes in sizes #10-#12, Elk Hair Caddis in sizes #14-#16, Chubby Sallies and Iron Sallies in sizes #14-#16, Pats Rubberlegs in sizes #12-#18, and Morrish Hoppers and Parachute Hoppers in sizes #12-#16.

Streamer fishing is a good choice in the summer. Try smaller Buggers, Sculpzillas and Mini Dungeons.

Fall insects include: Hoppers, Blue Winged Olives, Caddis and some Midges

Try Morrish Hoppers and Parachute Hoppers in sizes #12-#16, JuJu Baetis and Pheasant Tails in sizes #18-#22, Elk Hair Caddis in sizes #16-#18, and Zebra Midges in sizes #18-#22.

Make sure to bring a streamer rod in the fall. Again, Buggers, Sculpin Patterns and smaller tandem streamers will work.

Winter insects include: Midges

Try Sprout Midges, Para Midges, Zebra Midges and Bling Midges in sizes #18-#22.

You can still fish streamers here in the winter, just make sure to strip them slow and keep them small.

Best Times Of Year To Fish South Boulder Creek

On the upper reaches above Rolinsville, summer and fall are the best times to fish. During the colder months, sections like the Interpretive Site get lots of shelf ice.

As far as the tailwater goes, it really fishes well year round. The winter can offer good midge hatches, but it can be too cold for comfort, as there is hardly any sun in the Kayak Run, Walker Ranch, and Ethel Harrold sections. I really prefer to fish these sections in the summer, as it is warmer and there are more insects hatching.

Types Of Trout

South Boulder Creek consists of mainly Rainbow and Brown trout, with the odd Cutbow here and there. On the upper stretches above Gross Reservoir, you will encounter some Brook trout also.

Fish generally range between 8″ to 16″ on South Boulder Creek. However, I have seen multiple trout that are 20″ plus – although these are rare. You will often find these fish in the Walker Ranch section, as there is more holding water with larger pools and runs. You will also catch some real “dinks” that are smaller than 8 inches.

Lincoln Hills does stock Tiger Trout and larger Rainbows and Browns. Occasionally, these stocker fish will make their way above Rollinsville.