Time: 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Location: Mile Marker 266.5 in Clear Creek Canyon
Fish Landed: 8
I was concerned that the steady rain of all day Sunday continuing into Monday morning raised the streams to levels that were not conducive for fishing. Another possibility was snow accumulations in the higher elevations that was now creating early run off, but when I checked the flows on the department of water resources web site, most of the local streams seemed to be at manageable levels.
Tuesday morning remained cool, but the forecast called for gradual clearing during the afternoon with the temperature rising to the low 60’s. I was very anxious to maximize my fishing time before snow melt became a significant factor, so I decided to make the short drive to Clear Creek Canyon in the afternoon. Jane and I biked to Coors Field to exchange our rain check from Sunday’s postponed baseball game for a future Rockie’s game and then stopped at Snarf’s for a delicious sandwich, so I was able to depart by 12:45, and I found myself on the stream fishing by 2PM near mile marker 266.5. I like this stretch of water because it runs on the north side of route 6 and, therefore, enjoys more sun than some of the narrower areas.
When I looked down at the water I discovered that it was quite stained. The color approximated that of split pea soup, but the water level was a reasonable 66 CFS. For some reason dirty water always creates the illusion of higher flows in my mind, and I’m also somewhat intimidated by murkiness. I began fishing with a royal tarantula since it performed well for me on an earlier trip to Clear Creek, but on Tuesday it was not popular.
I decided to switch to a black Chernobyl ant, and I theorized that the black color would contrast nicely with the dense olive green color of the water. Since the Chernobyl was more buoyant than the tarantula, I added a 3.5 foot tippet to the bend and then attached a size 16 beadhead prince nymph. For the first 1.5 hours I worked these flies with the only change being an exchange of the prince for an emerald caddis pupa half way through the early time period. I succeeded in generating attention, but the five fish I landed were all foul hooked. It seemed that the fish were looking at the Chernobyl but not taking it, and when the fish appeared from the murky depths to inspect my fly , I set prematurely and dragged the fly into the fish.
I grew weary of the refusal and foul hook game, so I began switching flies. I tried a Cathy’s super beetle, a tan pool toy, and an olive size 14 stimulator, but I quickly realized that these flies were not even able to generate a refusal. I actually gave some thought to quitting, and I planned to blame my skunking on the dirty water, but for some reason I decided to try a different Chernobyl ant. The Chernobyl was creating interest, but it was not exactly what the fish were looking for, so why not try a different version? The first ant was relatively small, and the black rubber legs were short, so I found a size 10 foam imitation in my fly box that had longer brown rubber legs. These legs would be much more visible to a trout with the added advantage of offering more wiggle action.
I knotted the fly to my leader and decided to forego a dropper since that approach was simply increasing the odds of entanglement. My other significant change in strategy was to focus almost entirely on deep pockets bordered by large boulders along the bank. It seemed fruitless to cast to the faster runs away from the bank, and I did not see any competing fishermen so I could afford to cover a significant amount of real estate.
Success. Over the last two hours I rapidly worked my way upstream along the steep rocky left bank and plopped the Chernobyl ant into all the likely locations that matched my criteria. I landed eight trout using this approach, and I missed at least half this many as well. The fish were quite small and averaged 6-8 inches, but catching fish of any size was preferable to just exercising my arm and climbing over rocks. I was actually quite pleased that I persisted and solved the riddle enough to dupe fish in fairly adverse stream conditions.