Last week I had the good fortune of doing some late summer fly-fishing with a good friend. We fished along the winding stretch of Michigan Creek that flows through the Whitten Ranch. August and early September mean grasshoppers are out on the ranch’s high altitude pastures and have fish looking up for an opportunistic meal on the creek’s surface. As we picked our way through the oxbows of the creek, it seemed a feisty brown trout eagerly darted up for our hopper patterns on practically every bend or riffle.
We struck out mid-morning from Denver, heading up Highway 285 to the ranch. Located in the South Park basin just past the town of Jefferson, the property is an easy and scenic drive that takes just a little more than an hour from most metropolitan locales. When we arrived it was a beautiful day with the sun slowly warming the air, which was still crisp from the cold night before. At an elevation over 9,000 feet, Whitten Ranch enjoys cooler summer days – which was a welcome condition having left 90-degree temperatures behind us in Denver.
Michigan Creek meanders for almost a mile through Whitten Ranch. This prolific stretch of the creek has been expertly restored by Confluence Consulting, a highly regarded environmental, hydrology, and fisheries biology firm out of Bozeman, Montana. As a result, the creek is a very healthy aquatic ecosystem supporting wild browns, rainbows, and the occasional brookie ranging from 8 to 15 inches. My favorite way to approach this kind of small technical water is with a light and short fly-rod, my preference is a 3 weight Scott F-2. Its a 6.5 foot long fiberglass rod that has allows me to make delicate fly presentations and feel every little move a fish makes.
As we walked our way down the stream it was difficult to decide where to start because every little piece of water looks inviting. The creek has a good diversity of wide slower moving holes, shallow gravel runs, tight undercut banks, and technical bends that offer infinite entertainment for a fly-fisherman. Some may recognize the water, as it was previously a top choice in the line-up of private water accessible to members of Rocky Mountain Angling Club. However, in recent years the property has been taken out of the program and kept totally private for the owner and his guests. As a dry-fly enthusiast, this piece Michigan Creek is a real haven. This day was no different as we found numerous hungry browns in different parts of the creek. Having fished the property a few times already, I have now learned that one can always venture down to the stream on Whitten Ranch to find an eager trout ready to play.
For more information on Whitten Ranch or to arrange a private excursion, please feel free to contact me.