Time: 10:30AM – 2:00PM
Location: Large wide pullout on north side of route 6 and half a mile below where stream cuts to north side; 50 yards below bridge until just above the bridge
Fish Landed: 8
Clear Creek 11/09/2014 Photo Album
The water that one elects to fish is one of the keys to fly fishing, but I’m not talking about stream destination choice, although this is certainly another critical factor. Another critical decision revolves around the stretch of water that a fly fishermen chooses to fish, and I discovered how important this seemingly minor choice is to fishing success on Sunday November 9, 2014.
After skin surgery on my back (wear sunscreen) on Thursday, October 30 2014, I was not able to fish for at least a week. Until I experienced this incision, I did not realize how many movements bring the middle of one’s back into play, and casting a fly was certainly at the top of the list of aggravating actions. Unfortunately my recovery period coincided with a week of continuing mild fall weather in Colorado, and it was difficult to refrain from enjoying bonus fishing time.
Sunday was forecast to be the last of the mild weather before a blast of arctic air descended on the Front Range, and I felt that my back could withstand a couple hours of casting, so I committed to a late season trip. I did not want to make a long drive, so I evaluated nearby options. South Boulder Creek was flowing at a ridiculously low 13 cfs, so I ruled out my home water. The South Platte River was also trickling through Waterton Canyon at 34 cfs, and that represents quite low water and technical fishing. In addition this option necessitated a bike ride with a backpack, and I did not want to test the stitches on my back to that extent.
The next close option was Clear Creek, and the flows were fairly ideal at 50 cfs. Clear Creek Canyon is a mere 50 minute drive from my house, so I decided to make it my destination on Sunday. With the change from daylight savings time to standard time, I estimated that prime water and air temperatures would be in the 11AM to 2PM window. I packed my gear on Sunday morning and left the house by 9:30, and this enabled me to reach a wide dirt parking space on the north side of route six by 10:15, and I was in my waders and ready to fish by 10:30.
As I stood behind my car preparing to fish, another vehicle pulled into a pullout directly across from me, and a solo fishermen began a similar routine. When I initially arrived, I walked across the road and scanned the creek up and down for competing fishermen, and I was pleased to see no one else. After all my caution, my desire for stream space was being compromised unknowingly by the gentleman across from me. I considered moving on, but then decided to walk down the road .2 miles and fish back up to the Santa Fe, as I assumed the other fellow would cut directly down the bank.
Clear Creek at My Starting Point
I executed my plan and walked by a large rock formation that separated the highway from the stream and then found a nice worn path that took me gradually down the bank to the edge of the river. Another fisherman was in a nice pool thirty yards below me, but he seemed to be rather stationary, so I waded into the creek and crossed to the south side away from the road. A gorgeous pool and deep run presented itself just above me, and a rush of anticipation surged through me as I tied on a Chernobyl ant and ultra zug bug.
I was certain that this attractive water would yield one if not two small trout, but certainties are rare in fishing. I covered the length of the pool and the deep run at the top, and I had nothing to show for my efforts. Perhaps it was the flies? I added a salvation nymph below the ultra zug bug and moved up along the bank, and ten yards above the lovely starting pool I saw a fish dart to the surface to grab the Chernobyl. A swift hook set allowed me to connect, and I quickly stripped a skinny eleven inch brown trout to my net. I was pleased to have a fish and even more impressed that it took a fly on the surface. Did this fish lose weight in the spawning process?
First Catch Was This Skinny Brown Trout
I was pretty excited as I moved on after this minor success, and I focused my propecting casts on the water that bordered the bank and rocks on my side of the river. Despite some solid casting and drifts, my fish count remained at one as I worked my way upstream on the south channel that flowed around a long narrow island. After an hour of fishing I approached the tip of the island, and here I noticed the tip of a fly rod moving back and forth. When I moved closer, I found a heretofore hidden fisherman just above the island, and he appeared to be younger than the person who arrived and parked across from me.
Liked the Chernobyl Ant
I crossed the island and the small north braid and climbed the steep bank to circle around this temporary block to my progress, and when I crested the steep bank and looked upstream I could see the owner of the green Subaru that was parked across from me. At this point I realized that I had probably fished through water that the lower fisherman covered not more than thirty minutes beforehand.
With two fishermen now blocking my path I threw my gear in the car and slowly drove west to just beyond the bridge that crosses Clear Creek where it shifts from the south side of the highway to the north. Cars filled the parking spaces on both sides of the road just beyond the bridge, but I did not see fishermen in the stream. A second pullout on the south side of the paved two lane had an open space, so I made a U-turn and snagged the spot. In a matter of minutes I had my backpack and front pack in place, and I walked along the shoulder to the bridge where I jumped the guard rail and found a nice path that followed the creek along the south side.
I hiked along this path for fifty yards and then angled down a short steep bank to the edge of the water and resumed my prospecting. The remainder of my time on Clear Creek was quite enjoyable as I methodically worked my way upstream and cast the Chernobyl and trailing nymphs in all the likely pools and pockets. The creek in this area was faster due to the tighter canyon walls, and this probably explains why I no longer needed to share the water. Fortunately I developed a preference for pocket water, and the stretch of water below the bridge suited me perfectly.
Another Decent Brown for Clear Creek
I landed seven additional brown trout in the remaining two hours as I fished to the bridge and slightly above. The weather was quite pleasant for early November with partial clouds and sunshine ruling the sky, and the high temperature reached the upper sixties. By 2PM I reached a churning white water cascade, and this forced me to once again scale the steep bank. I knew the shadows would shortly cover the stream and the temperature would plummet, so I decided to honor my commitment to quit at 2 and returned to Stapleton to watch the Broncos vs. Raiders NFL game.
I continue to be amazed by the amount of pressure that Clear Creek receives in the canyon between Golden and Idaho Springs, but I suppose fishermen head there for the same reasons that I do; proximity to Denver. The fish are small, but they still help to satisfy the avid fisherman’s need to feel the intoxicating tug on the end of a long rod. I enjoyed some bonus fishing on Sunday November 9, and I am thankful for that.