Clear Creek – 10/01/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Upstream from Tunnel 3

Clear Creek 10/01/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

After a fun day of fishing with Dan on Sunday, I decided to sneak in a few hours on Monday before the start of the National League western division playoff game between the Rockes and Dodgers. The short time available translated to a nearby destination, and the closest spot was Clear Creek Canyon.

I departed Stapleton by 10:30AM, and I arrived at a wide pullout along US 6 west of Tunnel 3 by 11:15. I threw a light lunch in my backpack and assembled my Orvis Access, before I ambled down the road a short distance, and then I carefully negotiated a short steep bank. I was in position to cast by 11:30. The dashboard temperature registered in the upper 50’s, as I began, and I wore a long sleeved insulated undershirt, and I was comfortable throughout my 2.5 hours on the stream.

I knotted a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line, and I began plopping the foam terrestrial in the likely fish holding places. Fifteen minutes elapsed before a brown trout cautiously nipped the fly, but I was unable to connect permanently. Two more temporary hook ups extended my frustration, but then a nice eleven inch native crushed the beetle, and I photographed number one on the day.

After forty-five minutes that yielded one landed trout, three temporary hook ups, and several refusals; I began to question the effectiveness of the beetle. It was attracting attention, but the fish were backing off at the last minute. I decided to test the dry/dropper method, so I converted to a peacock hippy stomper, ultra zug bug, and a salvation nymph. This conversion produced positive results, as I landed three additional fish to attain a count of four. One twelve inch brown trout attacked the hippy stomper, and two smaller cousins consumed the ultra zug bug. I also felt the weight of two temporary connections, and I was feeling quite optimistic about my switch to a dry/dropper configuration.

Of course as soon as one gains confidence, the game changes, and I endured a long drought in spite of covering very appealing water. Once again I considered a change. I removed the three flies and tied a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my tippet. The caddis fooled two trout, and I was pleased to elevate the fish count to six. Again, however, the attraction of the caddis was short lived, and I sensed that I was passing over fish that were available to a desirable fly.

With two o’clock rapidly approaching, I reverted to Jake’s gulp beetle. I reasoned that the plop would generate interest, and the orange indicator made it easy to track. Shortly after attaching the beetle to my line, two refusals introduced doubt to my thoughts. However, with only a few minutes remaining of my allotted time frame, I persisted with the beetle. I lobbed a relatively long cast toward the upper third of a long attractive pool, and an eleven inch brown attacked the bobbing black fake food morsel. I netted number seven, snapped a photo, and quickly scrambled up a steep bank and returned to the car.

Monday developed into a reasonably successful day with seven fish landed in 2.5 hours of fishing. Nevertheless I suffered numerous refusals and momentary connections. I was unable to settle on a fly or combination that yielded consistent results, and I covered a significant amount of stream to achieve somewhat above average results.

Fish Landed: 7

 

 

Clear Creek – 08/24/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Within one mile east of Tunnel 2

Clear Creek 08/24/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

Jane and I had tickets for the Cardinals vs Rockies game on Friday evening, so my fishing options were limited to relatively close destinations. The closest choice was Clear Creek, so I made the short drive to the narrow canyon west of Golden, CO on Friday morning. Traffic was flowing reasonably by the time I left the house around 9:30AM, and I arrived at a very wide pullout on the south side of US 6 east of Tunnel 2 by 10:15.

The high temperature for Denver was projected to reach ninety degrees on Friday, so I elected to wade wet, and this decision proved to be appropriate. I rigged my Orvis Access four weight for small stream fishing, and I ambled along the shoulder of the highway for .2 miles, until I found a reasonably safe spot to negotiate the steep rocky bank to the creek.

Jake’s gulp beetle historically yielded excellent results on Clear Creek, so a size 10 foam terrestrial became my first fly choice. I lobbed it to likely deep spots, and I observed a few looks, but the trout failed to open their mouths, before they dropped back to the stream bottom. Unwilling to deepen my frustration, I switched to a size 16 gray deer hair caddis, and this matched the small naturals that covered the streamside boulders.

My move was immediately confirmed as a winner, when I tossed the caddis to a deep hole below a large exposed boulder situated along the bank. As I looked on, a decent brown trout slowly elevated to the surface and sipped the caddis impostor. Needless to say I was very pleased. I methodically worked my way upstream along the left bank and added another representative brown that was quite nice for Clear Creek but smaller than the first netted fish. A pair of smaller brown trout followed, but then a series of refusals ruined my state of fly fishing bliss.

The water type shifted to fast runs and deep pockets, and I speculated that perhaps the Jake’s gulp beetle might be more effective and surely more visible, so I made the switch. Initially the foam beetle accounted for fish number five, but then it lapsed into another ignored or rejected dry fly. At this point I paused for lunch in a rare shady location overlooking a gorgeous run and pool. The deep center run cut the pool in half and created two very attractive shelf pools on each side.

After lunch I extended the leader by eighteen inches, and I exchanged the Jake’s gulp beetle for the size 16 deer hair caddis that provided success during the morning. By now the sun was directly overhead, and its rays beat down on the river and anyone attempting to fly fish in the canyon. Apparently the fish were affected as well, because the same caddis that yielded confident takes in the first 1.5 hour now provoked tentative looks at best. I persisted, however, under the mistaken belief that the right spot along the bank would yield positive results in spite of the bright blue sky and soaring air temperatures.

After an hour of dry fly frustration I decided to try one last approach before I surrendered to the heat and exited the canyon. I tied a size 12 Chernobyl ant to my line and added a beadhead hares ear as a dropper. Initially I cast this combination to similar locations as those prospected with the dry flies, but after another lull in action, I began to focus on faster deep runs and frothy sections at the top of pockets and riffles. A small brown trout grabbed the hares ear, and my method was finally vindicated.

I moved along and experienced a couple momentary hook ups, but then the small yellow indicator on the Chernboyl began to twist around on the underside of the body. The top fly was not drifting topside up, so I replaced it with a size 14 chubby Chernobyl with a brown body. With the more buoyant surface fly I added a second dropper in the form of a size 16 yellow caddis pupa. I continued to target the faster aerated spots in the creek, and the deep nymph approach paid dividends, when two brown trout mashed the caddis pupa, as it began to swing at the end of the drift.

Just before two o’clock the chubby paused in the middle of a current seam, and I responded with a quick hook set, but after feeling some weight for a split second, the line went limp. I stripped in the line and discovered that the hares ear and caddis pupa were missing, as apparently I tied a bad knot between the chubby and the upper nymph. I was within minutes of when I planned to quit, so rather than undertaking the task of tying two replacement flies to my line, I climbed the very steep rocky bank to the highway and paced back to the Santa Fe.

Late August is typically a slow time for fly fishing in Colorado on freestone streams, and the hot weather added to the challenge, so I was pleased to land eight trout in 3.5 hours of fly fishing on Friday. Hopefully I have more time next week, and that will enable some longer trips to tailwaters in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 8

 

Clear Creek – 08/01/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 1:00PM

Location: Above first bridge after Tunnel One

Clear Creek 08/01/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon.

In a situation similar to Monday, an afternoon appointment precluded me from taking a long day trip to fly fish on Wednesday, August 1. I enjoyed a productive two hours on Clear Creek on Monday, so I decided to test the local stream once again. I departed my house in Denver at 9:15AM and arrived at the same parking space that served my needs on Monday at 9:50AM. I hustled to pull on my waders, assembled my Orvis Access four weight and zipped through my elbow exercises; and this hasty preparation enabled me to drop a fly on the creek a bit after ten o’clock.

The sky was overcast and the air temperature was refreshingly cool, as I began my quest for trout on Clear Creek. I began my day just above the first bridge after Tunnel 1 and directly below the parked Santa Fe. A hippy stomper was productive on Monday, so I knotted one with a red body to my line and dropped a cast in a nice deep hole along the bank and in front of a collection of dead tree branches. On the very first drift a small brown trout darted to the surface and unabashedly engulfed the hippy stomper. Needless to say my optimism soared with this instant dose of success.

I continued on my way westward; however, the early prosperity soon waned, and refusals took center stage. The section of the creek that I occupied was narrow and fast, but it featured numerous quality shelf pools on both sides of the stream, and I was certain that my offerings were ignored by hungry fish. I concluded that the red body was repelling the Clear Creek trout rather than attracting them, so I swapped the top fly for a hippy stomper with a peacock dubbed body. On Monday the combination of the peacock stomper and an ultra zug bug delivered my best action, so I followed suit and added an iridescent zug bug on a 2.5 foot dropper.

Over the next hour I covered a significant amount of stream real estate, and the rapid movement enabled me to boost the fish counter to five. Two of the first five trout crushed the hippy stomper, and three nipped the ultra zug bug. My watch registered noon, as I netted number five, and I was pleased to have moderate success, yet I felt that better results were attainable. I cycled through a series of fly changes in an effort to boost my catch rate, but my goal was never reached.

I removed the hippy stomper and ultra zug bug and plopped a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle  through four promising pools and pockets, but only a pair of refusals developed. I added the ultra zug bug to the beetle in an attempt to cover surface and subsurface feeders, but the beadhead addition had no effect. Again I removed the two flies and knotted a medium olive size 14 stimulator to my line, and this move provoked only a couple wary looks. I recalled previous Clear Creek expeditions, when a parachute hopper duped the residents, so I tied a size 10 version with a light gray poly body to my line and combined it with the ultra zug bug. The large hopper pattern looked great, as it bobbed through the deep runs and riffles, but the selective cold water inhabitants of Clear Creek simply refused it with some splashy misdirected rises.

Finally I considered a three fly dry/dropper approach. Many times I defaulted to this mainstay method, and it rescued my day. I plucked a yellow fat Albert from my fly box and added the ultra zug bug and beadhead hares ear and spent the final forty-five minutes prospecting all the likely fish holding lies. I theorized that the weight of the two beadheads and the extra length of tippet associated with the second dropper would enable my offerings to get deeper and in front of more trout.

Alas the strategy did not pan out that way, although a brown trout surfaced and crushed the fat Albert. When I inspected it in my net, I was pleased to learn that it was the best fish of the day and measured at twelve inches. A seventh brown trout grabbed one of the trailing nymphs at 12:45, and I began a steep rocky ascent to the road at 1PM. When I ambled back to the car along the shoulder of US 6, I was amazed at the distance I covered in three hours.

It was fun to take advantage of some delightful summer weather on Wednesday, but I was somewhat disappointed by my results. The catch rate lagged Monday, and I never uncovered a fly combination that delivered consistent success. Seven fish landed in three hours is a fairly average catch rate for this fly fisherman. I suspect that I will rest Clear Creek for a bit and explore other Colorado streams over the next couple weeks.

Fish Landed: 7

Clear Creek – 07/30/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 1:00PM

Location: Downstream from first bridge after Tunnel 1

Clear Creek 07/30/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon.

With only a few hours to fish on Monday as a result of a physical therapy appointment at 2:45PM, I decided to make the short drive to Clear Creek in Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden, CO. I was apprehensive regarding my choice after a mixed bag of success and failure during my most recent trips to the narrow canyon along US 6.

Monday’s projected high in Denver was 77 degrees, and when I arrived next to the tumbling stream, the sky was overcast, and the air was cool, especially compared to the hot weather that settled over Colorado in early July. It was actually quite refreshing, and I appreciated the cool breeze, as I donned my waders and set up my Orvis Access four weight rod. The flows were also very reasonable at 81 CFS. This level enabled comfortable conditions for wading, yet was elevated enough to protect the trout from high summer temperatures.

I parked just west of the first bridge after passing through Tunnel 1, and I shared the pullout with three vehicles that transported rock climbers to the high vertical wall on the south side of the creek. I crossed the highway carefully and hiked along the south bank for three hundred yards, and at that point I carefully picked my way through some rocks and vines, until I was at the edge of the stream.

I rigged my rod with a Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear nymph and prince nymph and began to probe the likely fish holding locations with the dry/dropper method. After ten minutes of fruitless prospecting, I became disillusioned with the prince nymph and replaced it with an ultra zug bug. The change paid dividends, when I hooked and landed a small brown trout, and then in a deep pocket in the middle of the trough-like streambed, a very nice cutbow latched on to the ultra zug bug. The pretty fish displayed the stripe of a rainbow and the jaw slashes of a cutthroat. I was pleased to net a trout that deviated from the standard Clear Creek brown trout.

I continued onward and experienced a few refusals, and I decided to follow my normal response by downsizing. I replaced the Chernobyl ant with a peacock-body hippy stomper, and with this lineup on my line I upped the fish counter to five, as two browns slammed the hippy stomper and another snatched the ultra zug bug.

My success rate was satisfactory, but I became disenchanted with the tendency of the hippy stomper to sink. I concluded that the two size 16 beadheads were two heavy for the thin foam construction of the hippy stomper, so I reconfigured with only the ultra zug bug as a dropper on a two foot leader. This arrangement quickly evolved into my most successful offering, and I methodically covered the stream until I arrived thirty yards downstream of the bridge. I incremented the fish tally from five to eleven during this period, and the trout split their vote evenly between the hippy stomper and ultra zug bug.

With fifteen minutes remaining several decent fish refused the hippy stomper, so I decided to experiment with a different terrestrial. I knotted a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line and finished my foray on Clear Creek by plunking the foam terrestrial in likely spots. The move was futile, and several trout expressed their disapproval of my fly choice by rising to inspect and then dropping back to the stream bottom. I glanced at my watch and noted that one o’clock arrived, so I returned to the car, and eventually made the drive back to Stapleton.

I was quite pleased to register an eleven fish day in two hours of fishing on Clear Creek. Once I settled on the hippy stomper/ultra zug bug combination, I enjoyed an extended hot streak. My success rate waned, however, as I approached the bridge; and I theorized that the area near the bridge and highway suffered from more intense pressure. The fish were small, but I cannot complain given the forty minute drive.

Fish Landed: 11

Clear Creek – 11/14/2017

Time: 1:00PM – 2:30PM

Location:  West of Tunnel 6 and then between Tunnel 3 and Mayhem Gulch

Clear Creek 11/14/2017 Photo Album

The difference between tailwater streams and freestone streams is accentuated by the cold weather months in Colorado. One day after enjoying a successful outing on South Boulder Creek, a small tailwater along the Front Range, I sampled Clear Creek. Clear Creek is a freestone creek that tumbles from its source near the Eisenhower Tunnel, and the contrast between the two at the same time of the year with similar weather was stark.

I arrived at a parking space along US 6 just west of Tunnel 6 by 12:15, and I immediately devoured my small lunch. The high temperature in Denver on Tuesday was expected to reach 72 degrees, but the dashboard in my car registered 50 as I completed my lunch and assembled my Orvis Access four weight. The narrow canyon was almost completely covered by shadows, and the lack of sun combined with the chilly temperature prompted me to wear my fleece and light down layers. Attired in this manner I was comfortable throughout my 1.5 hours of fishing during the early afternoon. The stream flows were around 44 CFS, and the conditions allowed me to wade fairly easily and to cover both sides of the creek.

Before embarking on my Tuesday afternoon adventure, I read my post from November 14, 2016. I visited Clear Creek on the same date a year prior and landed eight trout. Most of the netted fish were attracted to a hares ear nymph, so on the 2017 revival I elected the same approach. I configured my line with a yellow fat Albert, an ultra zug bug, and a beadhead hares ear; and I began to toss the trio of flies to all the likely pools, deep runs and pockets. I was certain that my focused efforts would secure a few small trout, but after forty minutes of fruitless casting, my confidence tumbled to new lows. In fact during this period of intense concentration, I never witnessed a look or refusal. Generally wading triggers a fish or two to bolt from bank side cover, but even this reaction was lacking on Clear Creek on November 14.

The area west of Tunnel 6 seems to attract more pressure than any other stretch in Clear Creek Canyon, so I concluded that perhaps bait fishermen harvested a proportionately large number of fish from the area. I assumed that general state fishing regulations applied to the length of Clear Creek Canyon. With this thought firmly planted in my brain, I elected to crest the steep bank, and I returned to the car and drove to a pullout halfway between Mayhem Gulch and Tunnel 3. This area was slightly upstream from the section that yielded eight trout on the same date a year ago. Surely the same tactics that worked then would salvage my day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9laP5bGo3hc/WguCHivBwdI/AAAAAAABRm0/4fTTMvTjgoc7_7H_5gIPgsubp06nhPJJgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB140002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6488422741528082209?locked=true#6488422754252079570″ caption=”Snow Remains in the Narrow Canyon Section of Clear Creek” type=”image” alt=”PB140002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I carefully negotiated the steep snow covered path to reach the edge of the creek, and I resumed my rapid searching method for another fifty minutes. The canyon in this area was even narrower than my first stop, and quite a bit of snow remained on the large rocks that bordered the stream. I focused on deep slow moving sections, and I executed some nice long downstream drifts along the opposite bank, but once again I was convinced that Clear Creek was barren of fish of any sort. By 2:30 I was chilled and bored, and I scaled the bank and returned to the car and shed my gear. I never saw a fish during 1.5 hours of fishing in two locations, and I attributed this to the cold water temperatures from early snow melt, or perhaps the brown trout continued their spawning ritual.

Two positive conclusions resulted from my 1.5 hours on Clear Creek on November 14. I stopped for gas and fulled my tank on my way to the stream, and I eliminated Clear Creek from my list of possible fishing destinations until the spring of 2018.

Fish Landed: 0

 

Clear Creek – 11/03/2017

Time: 12:30PM – 3:30PM

Location: Near Tunnel 6

Clear Creek 11/03/2017 Photo Album

Not all fishing days are created equal. Friday was a stark reminder of the truth of that statement. A second overstated weather forecast lured me into a trip to the western section of Clear Creek Canyon. The temperature in Denver as I drove west at 11AM was 41 degrees, and I based my decision to fish on a projected high of sixty degrees in Idaho Springs. Could the meteorologists be accurate? Amazingly by the time I entered the eastern end of Clear Creek Canyon, the dashboard temperature elevated to 49 degrees; and when I backed into a parking space on the eastern side of Tunnel 6, I was basking in the comfort of 55 degrees. The air temperature seemed to be rising, as one traveled west and gained elevation. It was a peculiar weather phenomenon.

South Boulder Creek on Thursday provided a splendid outing especially for early November, but I ratcheted down my expectations for Clear Creek. Flows were in the ideal range at 55 CFS, but I was concerned that the trout would be preoccupied with procreation given the predominant presence of brown trout. Since my arrival coincided with my normal lunch time, I remained in the car and chowed down on my sandwich, garden-raised carrot and Greek yogurt. With the matter of nourishment out of the way I pulled on my waders and set up my Orvis Access four weight. A well worn path led me down a hill from the parking area to the edge of a long featureless pool.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7dz_0_Ec2mU/Wf4LpDVop-I/AAAAAAABQ1w/tWWwtiUELA4htL-NM0LPqVXrjP-1F5jmwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB030039.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6484633308674540625?locked=true#6484633313358686178″ caption=”The Hoped For Fish Attractor” type=”image” alt=”PB030039.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Jake’s gulp beetle was favored by Clear Creek trout in previous autumns and in a few earlier outings in 2017, so I knotted a size 12 version to my line, and I began to cast directly upstream along the left bank. I might as well have been floating leaves in the creek, because no trout stirred or revealed their presence. When I reached the top of the long pool, I made some across and down drifts, and finally a small brown trout elevated and pressed its nose against the beetle and firmly rejected my offering. I was disappointed, but at least I located a fish to target. I sensed that Friday was not going to be a day of fast action, so I decided to focus on this fish, and I exchanged the beetle for a size 18 black parachute ant with a pink wing post. Negative. The fish never even bothered to rise to inspect the small terrestrial.

I finally surrendered and moved to the next section, which was characterized by a series of fast chutes and short pockets. Presenting the small ant in these turbulent conditions caused my confidence to sink, so I returned to the Jake’s gulp beetle, although this time I added a three foot dropper and tied a flashback baetis nymph to the end. Near the top of the cascading pocket water section a larger shelf pool appeared, and I lobbed the two fly combination to the left side of the fast current. On the fourth drift a fish refused the beetle, but on the next drift I lifted the flies near the scene of the rejection, and a barely six inch brown trout nabbed the trailing nymph. Hooray, I was on the scoreboard on November 3.

I was now on the north side of the oxbow bend, where the stream curves around the mountain that was pierced by Tunnel 6, and shadows extended over the entire width of the creek. I began executing across and downstream drifts of the beetle and nymph in slack water areas along the far bank, and I managed to generate one more refusal to the foam beetle. When I emerged from the shadows near the western portion of the bend, I encountered another section with fast shallow water, and I skipped this stretch and ambled westward until I was below US 6. A group of female rock climbers were clustered at the base of the rock edifice on my left before I reached the highway.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-anNNbRMBl_g/Wf4Lp-uFHfI/AAAAAAABQ1w/58rkhlPXyZACy6FsvjEdWmAzEWFuc3CKACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PB030042.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6484633308674540625?locked=true#6484633329298906610″ caption=”Nice Deep Run” type=”image” alt=”PB030042.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I scanned the stream ahead of me, and I spotted a spectacular pool that stood out due to the aqua color of the slow moving water. A smaller pool was situated just below the granddaddy of holes, so I prospected it first, but it offered no proof that trout called it home. I decided to go for the big boy, and I carefully approached the bluish-hued hole. As I paused to observe, I spotted three dark shadows that hovered just off to the left of the curling main current. The fish closest to the lip of the pool maintained a position near the surface, so I targeted it for my casts. Surely I could entice one of these active feeders to consume one of my delectable creations. I began with the beetle, and the visible trout slowly elevated, pressed its nose against my fly, and then sank back to its holding position. Drat, that was not the desired outcome from my effort.

Rather than disturb the pool with more casts, I resorted to swapping the beetle for an ant. Alas, five drifts of the ant generated yet another rejection from the trout closest to the lip of the pool. I paused and observed again, and I thought I noticed some tiny blue winged olives. Of course, I thought to myself, there was a sparse BWO hatch in progress, and one of my CDC olives would finally unlock their jaws. The ant came off my line, and a size 22 CDC blue winged olive replaced it. I fired some nice casts to the edge of the current seam, checked my rod high and fluttered the tiny mayfly down to the surface. The blue winged olive failed to induce even a look, and the constant motion of my casting caused the visible fish to flee out of sight. In addition to my inability to find the right fly to fool the trout, another factor came into play. The wind began to gust in fierce bursts, and my casts morphed into random efforts with the fly landing only a few feet in front of my feet. The whole scene reminded me of tossing dandelion seeds into the wind.

I was once again in the shadows, and my hands were beginning to stiffen. My confidence was a smidgen above zero, so I decided to end my frustration and called it a day. I hiked back on a nice trail above the creek and welcomed the shelter of my car. Why was I able to land only one small brown trout on Friday, November 3? I blamed it on the spawning process. I did not observe any spawning beds or see actively spawning fish, but it is rare to visit Clear Creek and not see much more evidence of the presence of fish. One six inch fish on November 3 was a notable accomplishment.

Fish Landed: 1

Clear Creek – 10/20/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Near Tunnel 5 and 6

Clear Creek 10/20/2017 Photo Album

In two hours of fishing on Monday on Clear Creek I landed seven trout. A return trip was in order, and temperatures were projected to spike at eighty degrees in Denver on Friday, October 20. This windfall of summer-like weather motivated me to make the short drive to the western end of Clear Creek Canyon. I arrived at the parking lot just west of Tunnel 5 by 10:45AM; however, the lot was full, so I exited and parked along the highway a short distance to the west.

After I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and climbed into my waders, I was on my way, and I followed the Peaks to Plains Trail around the oxbow until I reached the point where I exited on Monday. I had unfinished business, and I began my quest for trout by 11AM. On Monday I enjoyed success with a Jake’s gulp beetle, so I knotted one to my line on Friday and began to prospect the deep pockets that existed mainly along the left bank.

After thirty minutes of fruitless casting and wading I paused to eat my lunch on some sunny rocks, and I lamented my lack of action. It was already obvious that the catch rate would probably lag the pace of my previous visit to Clear Creek. Just prior to my lunch break, I waded across the creek at a wide relatively shallow riffle section, and while casting upstream to a moderate riffle, I spotted two decent fish. I interrupted my pursuit of trout to observe, and I noticed that the two fish were rubbing against each other and generally frolicking about at the tail of the shallow area. I surmised that I was viewing some amorous activity, and the brown trout spawn was in progress. Not wishing to interrupt their procreation, I returned to the bank below the path and consumed my modest lunch.

Shortly after I resumed fishing at 12:15, I plopped the beetle into some moderate riffles directly above my position, and I was surprised when a fish elevated and inspected my fly. Unfortunately the stream inhabitant chose not to eat and only inspected. Sensing that I would not have many opportunities to sight fish on this day, I decided to focus on the fish that revealed its position to my observant eyes. I swapped the beetle for a parachute black ant with a pink wing post. The first cast went unmolested, but the second pass floated directly over the place where the trout inspected the beetle, and this time the rainbow could not resist the black ant. I quickly raised the rod tip and connected with an eleven inch rainbow trout, and I snapped a photo in case it was my first and last fish on the day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jAsTQa5xQ9k/WerPDcmA1QI/AAAAAAABQNI/M-6vxvxA8rE6V8DtFanbhD-hwoTRXtheQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA200002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6479218649106095665?locked=true#6479218672048067842″ caption=”And There Is the Parachute Ant” type=”image” alt=”PA200002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I settled on the bait and switch routine as my preferred approach on Friday, and I cut off the ant and returned the beetle to the end of my tippet. I prospected with the larger foam attractor fly with the expectation of once again switching to the ant, if I observed another look or refusal. When I reached the bend I encountered some nice wide deep pockets, and I employed the across and down approach that yielded seven trout on Monday. I was very pleased, when I executed a reach cast to a pocket fifteen feet across from me, and just as the beetle was about to accelerate over the lip at the tail, another rainbow trout surface and slurped the foam terrestrial.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PbSNMCChQ-4/WerPFh3tNnI/AAAAAAABQNI/pK7aaWk6A_UM9E4hhuQfBo6gjz33W5p1ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA200006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6479218649106095665?locked=true#6479218707824195186″ caption=”The Rainbow Dwelled in the Slick Along the Far Bank” type=”image” alt=”PA200006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-W3lBekMBFPU/WerPEjwWIKI/AAAAAAABQNI/pvr7nNMVufYc7RafYs4ifz2C3L-bSU0aQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA200005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6479218649106095665?locked=true#6479218691150323874″ caption=”A Second Rainbow Trout from Clear Creek” type=”image” alt=”PA200005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After I released the second rainbow, I continued my upstream progression, and I searched for additional locations suitable for the across and down drift technique. Several appeared, but I was unable to repeat the earlier success, and by 2:30 I was positioned just below the parking lot at the end of the Peak to Plains Trail. I climbed up the steep rocky embankment and tossed my gear in the Santa Fe and drove west beyond Tunnel 6. I chose this spot because I recalled landing a disproportionate number of rainbow trout there in 2016. It was clear to me that the brown trout spawn was in progress, and rainbow trout were more apt to be in a feeding mindset on this warm autumn day.

The move paid off to some degree, as I added three more small trout to the fish count in the last hour of fishing. One of the netted fish sipped the ant on an across and downstream drift, and the other two fell for a similar presentation of Jake’s gulp beetle. Surprisingly two of the victims near Tunnel 6 were brown trout, and one was another eleven inch rainbow trout. I bumped into two other anglers positioned next to prime deep holes, and I was between them and restricted in my movement for my last hour. For this reason I decided to quit at 3:30 rather than drive to yet another location on Clear Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Vm3mCeolrSc/WerPGzE7yqI/AAAAAAABQNI/qU3hiJGOBfo0vaw8nE9jr4xE7TvCc1f7wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA200008.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6479218649106095665?locked=true#6479218729622948514″ caption=”A Rare Brown Trout on October 20″ type=”image” alt=”PA200008.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The weather was glorious for October 20, and I managed to fool five trout. I executed the same across and down drifts that yielded success on Monday, and achieved similar success. Jake’s gulp beetle was the leading character in the fly fishing play, but the black parachute ant played a key supporting role. The trout population of Clear Creek is probably ninety percent brown trout, so landing five trout while the spawning ritual was in full swing was a significant accomplishment.

Fish Landed: 5

Clear Creek – 10/16/2017

Time: 1:30PM – 3:30PM

Location: Near Tunnel 5.

Clear Creek 10/16/2017 Photo Album

I could not resist the temptation to fish again on Monday October 16, since the weather prognosticators projected high temperatures in the seventies. Perfect autumn days do not appear often in October, so Jane and I resolved to take advantage. We ate lunch at home and then packed our gear in the car and departed for Clear Creek Canyon. A forty-five minute drive delivered us to the parking lot just west of Tunnel No. 5, and this became my destination for Monday. I gathered my gear and assembled my Orvis Access four weight, while Jane added some layers and prepared to hike the Peak to Plains Trail. The temperature at our home in Stapleton was 75 degrees when we departed, and the dashboard display registered 64 at the parking lot. A huge cloud hovered above us, and I swapped my short sleeve T-shirt for my Columbia long sleeve undershirt in response to the drop in temperature and lack of sunshine. I also added a fleece layer for added comfort.

Clear Creek was flowing at 60 CFS with exceptional clarity, and my optimism rose, as Jane and I hiked along the trail downstream from the parking lot. We followed the oxbow that circles around the tunnel, until we were opposite US 6 below a very steep rocky embankment. At this point I said goodbye to Jane and scrambled down a rocky path of moderate difficulty to the creek. I was downstream from a narrow white water chute, and the stream was characterized by deep pockets and runs. During October in previous years the trout of Clear Creek responded favorably to a Jake’s gulp beetle, so that is what occupied my line, as I made my first cast.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Y7w8xdmy-QE/WeVrpT34MFI/AAAAAAABP_4/Gg3PLKyG4y0ZQ06FOhvVEj_QtFvyn3UnACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA160029.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6477701955996487025?locked=true#6477701996495777874″ caption=”The Productive Beetle” type=”image” alt=”PA160029.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After ten minutes of unproductive fishing, I reached a place where some nice slow shelf pools presented themselves along the opposite shoreline. Once again history suggested that Clear Creek trout would respond to downstream drifts, so I lobbed some casts across the stream and commenced some rapid fire mending to allow the beetle to float without drag along the rocky bank. The technique worked, and an eleven inch rainbow trout nipped the low floating beetle just before it began to drag at the end of the slow water. I was quite pleased to land my first fish in uncharted water on Clear Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lf-I0acINE8/WeVrnpQuB3I/AAAAAAABP_4/bLSZDc-1iI0E54IH_PYqhhkZcWy2C2dIACCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA160023.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6477701955996487025?locked=true#6477701967877375858″ caption=”The Home of the Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”PA160023.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Another shorter shelf pool existed above the home of fish number one, so I employed the same across and down approach, and miraculously a second rainbow grabbed the foam beetle at the lip. This spunky fish put up a nice battle and measured out at twelve inches. The afternoon was off to a superb start, and my outlook on the remainder of the day brightened.

I continued upstream, and while I made upstream casts on my side of the stream, I also searched for slack water along the far bank, since the across and down tactic yielded two early rainbows. After twenty minutes with no action, I encountered a nice midstream pocket and eddy behind a large exposed rock. The depth was moderate, and I popped the beetle in the middle of the small pool. The terrestrial crept a foot upstream toward the epicenter of the eddy, and suddenly a ten inch brown trout appeared and chomped the beetle. Prior to this success I was concerned about the absence of brown trout, and now I was reassured that they continued to inhabit Clear Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mXKpLbzR2ds/WeVro5JhxnI/AAAAAAABP_4/Gw0DgK5ofDsb9XrGHg6LcBNKzImKUNrpwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA160028.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6477701955996487025?locked=true#6477701989322049138″ caption=”A Brown Trout Appears” type=”image” alt=”PA160028.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After releasing the brown I decided to plop the beetle in the pool a few more times in case relatives were present. On one of these casts the beetle floated tight to the exposed rock, and just as it curled along the faster current seam, a dark form elevated for a closer look. I suspected that it was a rainbow trout, but I was unable to entice a strike, so I paused and exchanged the beetle for a parachute ant. On the second cast of the ant a small six inch brown trout darted to the surface and snatched the black morsel. I was not able to tempt the larger fish that inspected the beetle, so I surrendered to its selectivity and moved on.

The remainder of my time on Clear Creek mimicked my description of the first hour. I landed three additional trout including two more brown trout and a third rainbow. The last bow slurped the beetle in a shelf pool along the left bank, and it measured a length that was similar to the first two. In addition to the seven fish landed, I coaxed two or three additional brief hook ups by applying the across and down ploy. I cannot explain why this presentation is effective other than the fact that the fish see the fly before the leader.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-st0Xbe_x9-8/WeVrqV2EzQI/AAAAAAABP_4/ZZbBCi7ny-M-1bLXeM6jWnIXCvRZFL2MwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/PA160031.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6477701955996487025?locked=true#6477702014204955906″ caption=”Shimmering Rainbow Displays a Foam Beetle” type=”image” alt=”PA160031.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Monday evolved into a nice bonus day of fishing on Clear Creek, as I discovered a new section and reversed the bad karma of 9/18 and 8/29. The weather was unseasonably warm for October 16, and I landed seven decent trout by Clear Creek standards in two hours of fishing. All the netted fish succumbed to surface flies with Jake’s gulp beetle attracting the most interest. Quite a bit of interesting water remained between my exit point and the parking lot, and I plan to revisit in the near future if the weather cooperates.

Fish Landed: 7

Clear Creek – 09/18/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Between Tunnel 3 and Mayhem Gulch

Clear Creek 09/18/2017 Photo Album

I knew that my first post-Flattops outing would face a difficult comparison, but Monday felt extraordinarily challenging. For awhile I feared that I would not land a single fish. The weather was very summer-like, as the high temperature hovered in the upper 70’s in Clear Creek Canyon. I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and ambled down the highway a bit, before I slowly negotiated an angled path to the creek.

I began casting with a Jake’s gulp beetle, but it failed to attract interest, so I swapped it for a light gray size 10 parachute hopper. The grasshopper yielded two inspections, but no takes, so I added a dropper and attached an ultra zug bug. Apparently nymphs were not on the menu, and the parachute hopper adopted a waterlogged state, so I switched to a red fat Albert leading an ultra zug bug and a beadhead hares ear. Generally these nymphs are money in the bank, but on Monday they produced only unmolested drifts.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-L557AOqSS3w/WcVIDxjgiFI/AAAAAAABO8w/PCAUJUKM9loCNp_NK6rgG-ctq_Viv5a_gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P9180003.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6468655610696157009?locked=true#6468655669466662994″ caption=”Nice Deep Pools” type=”image” alt=”P9180003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

While I was in a state of frustration, I found a nice large rock in the sun and munched my lunch. After lunch I continued with the dry/dropper for a while longer, but one cursory look at the red body fat Albert was all I could muster. My ability to land trout was entering crisis mode.

At 12:30 I reached a place, where I attempted to step into the creek to position myself for some across and down drifts to some slack water along the opposite shoreline. I led with my left foot, but it inexplicably continued sliding down an angled rock until cold water spilled over the top of my waders. I never really fell; I just slid into a deep hole! This dose of misfortune nearly caused me to quit, but some distorted sense of purpose motivated me to press on for another 2.5 hours. I despise the feeling of sloshing water, but that was the sensation that accompanied me for the remainder of my time on Clear Creek.

My confidence was at a low ebb, and my wet core caused me to question why I ever returned to Clear Creek. The fish were small and difficult to catch, and the large smooth rocks made wading a risky proposition. On this warm day in September I could not land a single fish. In an effort to pull out of my funk, I shifted my approach. Jake’s gulp beetle proved its effectiveness many times on Clear Creek, so I removed the dry/dropper flies and returned to the size 10 beetle. I found a place to cross to the opposite side with the hope of finding less pressured fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6vYwml5Jux8/WcVIFIjbRuI/AAAAAAABO8s/zMmko2-103goqR6L0X-Zv6E51umaOa-mQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P9180005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6468655610696157009?locked=true#6468655692820203234″ caption=”Needs to Add Weight” type=”image” alt=”P9180005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

To a degree it worked. I landed a small brown on an across and down drift, and then I nabbed a skinny eleven inch brown trout from a deep midstream slot behind a submerged rock. Despite this hard earned success, the south side of the river was covered in shadows, and the lack of sunshine did not complement my saturated state. Before my chill progressed to shivers, I returned to the highway side of the creek and continued my upstream progression. Miraculously I built the fish count to six, and this included a rainbow and cutbow.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_pbehxwv9SI/WcVIIAk8fbI/AAAAAAABO8s/nOHvJ2Bn2eY9rV_G-dLpS0RaDyXYJWOywCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P9180010.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6468655610696157009?locked=true#6468655742218698162″ caption=”Pretty Cutbow” type=”image” alt=”P9180010.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

All six fish landed on Monday slurped the beetle, so the terrestrial was my savior on Clear Creek. By 2:30 I noticed a very sparse hatch of tiny blue winged olives, so I added a RS2 on a dropper, but the small nymph did not reward my confidence.

Clearly Monday was a subpar day of fishing. The Flattops comparison was unfortunate, but the outing was slow on a standalone basis as well. I plan to avoid Clear Creek for a bit, and when I return, I plan to explore a different section of the canyon.

Fish Landed: 6

Clear Creek – 08/29/2017

Time: 12:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Tunnel 3 and Mayhem Gulch

Clear Creek 08/29/2017 Photo Album

The contrast between the Bow River in Alberta and Clear Creek along Interstate 70 is stark. The Bow River contains wide sweeping runs and glides over a white cobble bottom with an abundant quantity of trout in the fifteen to twenty inch range. Clear Creek tumbles along a high gradient path over large angular rocks right next to a busy highway, and it contains primarily brown trout in the six to eleven inch range. On Tuesday August 29 I chose to shock my system back to reality by fishing in Clear Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pgxJMUp6gvk/Wac6L0YwhxI/AAAAAAABOC8/d-mZppvSfewUbLJxCQgrjOKhpOv40Lq6gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P8290240.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6460196128812379713?locked=true#6460196165201725202″ caption=”Still Higher Than Normal at 93 CFS” type=”image” alt=”P8290240.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Flows finally dropped to 93 CFS, but even that level remains high for this late juncture in the fly fishing season in Colorado. I had a few tasks to complete in the morning, so by the time I pulled into a wide pullout along Clear Creek, the clock displayed 11:50. I decided to eat my lunch, and then I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and found a well used path to descend the steep bank. The air temperature was in the upper eighties, and the sun was brilliant in the solid blue sky. For some reason I wore my waders, when Tuesday was probably the best day of the summer for wet wading.

For some reason I always expect Clear Creek to offer easy mindless fly fishing, but Tuesday reminded me to cleanse that idea from my thought process. I began the day with a size 12 Chernobyl ant, but it possessed a tiny yellow indicator spot, and I had great difficulty tracking it in the swirling currents. I could have overlooked this shortcoming, if it generated action, but it did not; so I swapped it for a size 10 Chernobyl with a much larger yellow indicator. The change did not yield results instantly, but after some persistence, I landed two ten inch brown trout. In both cases I utilized a downstream drift along the narrow band of slow water on the opposite shoreline. This was the only way I could manage a decent drag free drift due to the surge of fast tumbling current in the middle of the creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/–6wz85-kYMQ/Wac6MYrgW8I/AAAAAAABOC8/VzVEyejOrbYZPainJtZgrlXIULMUnSKkgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P8290241.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6460196128812379713?locked=true#6460196174944033730″ caption=”Yummy Chernobyl Ant Snack” type=”image” alt=”P8290241.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The larger Chernobyl generated quite a few refusals, so despite netting two fish in the first hour, I decided to experiment with a different fly. In recent years Jake’s gulp beetle outproduced most of the other flies in my box, so I knotted one with a peacock dubbed body to my line. This move once again proved to be effective, and I upped the fish count from two to ten over the remainder of the afternoon. The pace of the action improved, but it never approached a state that I would describe as hot. I cast to a huge number of pools, pockets and runs without even a look; however, the fish responded often enough to maintain my interest.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6rxb5BxENaE/Wac6ND2ZP7I/AAAAAAABOC8/oETZmu2MX9INZIfytU6k6ZwmzDddT05EwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P8290242.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6460196128812379713?locked=true#6460196186532429746″ caption=”First Victim of Jake’s Gulp Beetle” type=”image” alt=”P8290242.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At roughly 2:30 some small blue winged olives made an appearance, as a few clouds blocked the sun for short periods off and on. Initially I ignored them since they were quite small, but by 3:00 I added a 2.5 foot dropper and a size 20 RS2. The addition of the nymph was a positive, and two of the eight fish landed in the afternoon nipped the small nymph. In addition two fish nabbed the trailing baetis nymph imitation, as it began to swing, but I failed to bring these to the net. It was quite apparent that the trout were accustomed to blue winged olive nymphs showing fairly rapid movement. The other six afternoon trout responded to the foam beetle. All the fish landed on the day were brown trout except for one early rainbow that gulped the beetle.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jE25kZDd5R0/Wac6NudmINI/AAAAAAABOC8/m7_iYVgAN9wWBQTCTCz110fDFF5KmX_jACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P8290243.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6460196128812379713?locked=true#6460196197971140818″ caption=”Beauty Among the Rocks” type=”image” alt=”P8290243.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Given the hot sunny conditions and the time of the year, I was quite pleased to land ten small fish on Clear Creek on August 29. Historically fishing from the middle of August until the first week of September is very challenging on freestone streams in Colorado. The major hatches are over, and the weather is hot and clear. Once again Clear Creek was not the pushover stream that many fly shops tout. I worked hard to scramble over large rocks while executing a huge number of casts, but persistence rewarded me with a double digit day.

Fish Landed: 10