Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM
Location: Clear Creek Canyon between mile markers 263.5 and 263.0.
Fish Landed: 21
Back to back days on Clear Creek? Why? The weather forecast for Thursday was a mirror image of Wednesday, so I concluded that I could experience a replica fishing day. I felt a bit unfulfilled on Wednesday mainly because I fished over the same unproductive water twice and thus wasted a chunk of my time. I theorized that I could have landed more fish, and with a similar temperature day on Thursday, I had an opportunity to test my assumption.
I enjoyed my normal morning exercise routine, as I now realized that the best fishing was from noon until 3PM, so there was no need to rush to the cold shadow-covered stream in the narrow canyon. I arrived at a pullout near mile marker 263.5 by eleven o’clock, and by the time I assembled my Loomis five weight and climbed into my waders, it was 11:30. Even though I arrived later than Wednesday, the temperature remained colder and registered 48 degrees on my dashboard just before I turned off the engine. This prompted me to dress with an Adidas pullover and fleece layer on top, and I wore my New Zealand hat with ear flaps.
I found a rock strewn route down the steep bank near the exact location where I stopped fishing on Wednesday, and I started my day with flies similar to how I ended the previous day. My top fly was a pink pool toy, and the dropper was the ever popular ultra zug bug. I chose the pink pool toy since I desired a very buoyant and visible top fly, and foam and pink satisfied these requirements. I began prospecting my way upstream just as I had on my previous trip, and I landed three small brown trout by 12:15. This was a reasonable catch rate, however, I was not enjoying the experience to the same degree as one would expect because my hands were curled and burning. They needed to get wet in order to release my catches, and the brisk wind and cold temperatures combined with evaporation to create a numbing ache.
I decided to take a break and eat my lunch while the sun had an opportunity to warm the air a bit. In the past I discovered that my body chills when I am hungry, so hopefully devouring lunch would help to overcome the cold extremities. The lunch break strategy seemed to work, as I did not suffer aching hands during the remainder of my day on Clear Creek. I climbed back down the steep bank and resumed my upstream progression. I continued to land fish, but I also sensed that I was passing through productive water with no looks, so I paused and added a third fly to my line. Of course I chose my workhorse salvation nymph. This proved to be a great move, and during the remainder of my time I landed an additional eighteen fish to bring my October 29 tally to twenty-one. I estimate that half the fish ate the ultra zug bug, and the others chomped the salvation nymph. It seemed that the ultra zug bug performed on the dead drift while the salvation excelled in situations where I lifted the flies or allowed them to swing.
The fish were mostly small, but a twelve inch aberration surprised me, and a few slender but feisty eleven inch browns joined the mix. Three or four were small rainbow trout, and I cannot remember the last time I caught a rainbow in Clear Creek. My fishing consisted of my preferred approach with mainly short rapid fire casts to attractive deep pockets and runs. I moved quickly and limited my drifts to three to five depending on my assessment of the quality of the location.
Between one and three it seemed that the fish peaked in aggressiveness. During this time I discovered that I could cast to shelf pools and slow moving areas on the opposite side of the stream with great success. I held my rod high to keep the fly line off the water and allowed the dry/dropper to slowly creep through the slow pool next to a fast deep run. Quite often the drift of the subsurface nymphs was interrupted by a flash and erratic movement of the hopper, and this prompted a swift hook set from yours truly. This tactic was particularly welcome during a period when the sun was shining directly downstream, and this caused a glare on the water along the right bank directly above me.
By 3:30 I landed my nineteenth fish, and I now decided to target twenty fish for the day. I cast to a small moderate depth pocket, and as the hopper drifted to the tail, a fish appeared and put its nose against the foam fake. I overreacted and set the hook causing my flies to rocket over my left shoulder. I knew this could not be a positive event, and it was not. I turned around and discovered the hopper and two nymphs wrapped around a branch on a tree on the bank. There was a slender rock in the water beneath the tree, so I balanced myself on it, and pulled the branch down to inspect. Unfortunately this act caused the dropper flies to break free from the pool toy. I systematically stared at all the branches above in an attempt to spot the ultra zug bug and salvation, but my treasure hunt failed.
I shrugged my shoulders and muttered to myself that it was time to quit, and I hooked the pool toy to my rod guide and reeled up the slack line. The tippet section that was knotted to the bend of the grasshopper remained, so apparently the flies broke at the knot that attached the ultra zug bug. As I walked toward the bank, I decided to take one more look at the branch from a different angle, and much to my amazement I spotted the small ultra zug bug dangling an inch below one of the branches. I made a mental note of the location, and climbed the slender perch a second time and managed to break the twig and unraveled my two treasured flies.
With this good fortune behind me, I knotted the ultra zug bug back in its previous position, and I returned to the small pocket that instigated the whole episode in the first place. I tossed a cast to the top of the pocket, and as I lifted the flies to cast again at the tail, I felt the weight of resistance. I stripped the line and held tight and landed an eight inch brown. It was likely the culprit that refused the pool toy fifteen minutes ago and caused the fly retrieval adventure. I closed the loop, gained vengeance on my tiny tormentor, and registered fish number twenty.
I continued a bit longer with my lost and found flies and managed one more small trout. It was now close to four o’clock and the velocity of the wind increased while the shadows lengthened across the water. My hands reminded me that the temperature was dropping as darkness lurked around the corner, so I once again hooked my flies to the guide and climbed the steep bank to the shoulder of the highway. I discovered that I was at mile marker 263.0, and I fished roughly .5 mile from my starting point over a four hour period.
Once again the fish were relatively small, but the afternoon was totally entertaining as the trout attacked my flies, and my mind rarely wandered to other topics. I now know that the prime fishing period is noon until three o’clock, although this will shift to 11-2 after we turn the clocks back on Sunday morning. The 2015 fishing season continues, and I suspect I have a few more adventures in front of me.