Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM
Location: Clear Creek Canyon
Clear Creek 10/12/2022 Photo Album
I was certain that the stars and planets were aligned for an autumn fishing trip to South Boulder Creek. Readers of this blog may recall that I embarked on a trip to South Boulder Creek on 10/03/2022, but it was suddenly aborted, when I encountered a digital display sign that announced that Gross Dam Road was closed, and this forced me to pivot to the Big Thompson River for a day of fishing. Subsequent to that frustration, I made a phone call to Denver Water and eventually learned of a web site with a map that informed the public of days when Gross Dam Road was closed. In addition one of the readers of this blog sent me a link to the same web page.
The closure schedule indicated that the road was closed on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday during the week of October 10, so I built my fishing plans around this information and made South Boulder Creek my destination on Wednesday. I checked the flows, and the DWR graph depicted volumes of 89 CFS, and this was very favorable from my perspective. The weather was also a positive with high temperatures of 59 degrees in nearby Pinecliffe, CO. My historic blog posts established that I had some very successful days around the same time on South Boulder Creek in previous years. In short, I was quite excited to finally make a return trip to South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir.
I departed Denver by 8:30AM, and this allowed me to reach the turn off to Crescent Meadows by 9:15AM, and guess what greeted me? The same irksome sign that stopped me on 10/03/2022, and once again it announced that Gross Dam Road was closed on 10/12 and 10/13. Needless to say I was steamed. I decided to persist with my route in case the web site information was accurate, and the person that posted the sign made a typographical error. After a few minutes on upper Gross Dam Road I reached Crescent Meadows parking lot, and sure enough a young man blocked farther progress with a stop sign. I parked in the lot and walked over to the poor unsuspecting worker and expressed my anger with the disconnect between the web site information and the local road closure decision. Of course he was not responsible, but he did offer to pass along my frustration to his supervisors. I, likewise, planned to make another call to Denver Water, although I fear I the weather may never allow me to attempt another trip to South Boulder Creek in 2022.
What should I do now? I considered driving to the Big Thompson River, but after making the drive to Lake George on Tuesday, I was averse to extending my trip once again. I considered other options and temporarily decided to make the southward journey to the South Platte River at Deckers; however, when I stopped in cell phone range near Golden to map directions, I first checked the stream flows. The water managers apparently opened the taps, because the CFS reading was 430. I was reluctant to attempt to fish at those high levels in the fall, so I gave up on that idea and defaulted to the relatively nearby Clear Creek in the canyon.
Clear Creek is generally my least favorite front range destination; as the fish are small, they are surprisingly difficult to catch, and brown trout comprise at least 80% of the population. One of my criteria for October fishing is streams with a higher ratio of rainbow trout, and Clear Creek does not meet that guideline. At any rate I found myself at the tailgate of my Santa Fe preparing to fish in Clear Creek by 10:50AM on Wednesday. I fitted together my Loomis two piece five weight and slipped on my raincoat, since the temperature was sixty degrees but felt cooler due to a constant breeze that changed into strong gusts on a fairly frequent basis. I carefully maneuvered myself to the edge of the stream and began my upstream progression at 11:00AM. I began with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, a size 14 prince nymph, and a size 16 salvation nymph.
I covered a substantial distance and probed all the likely spots for thirty minutes with no response from the trout. I was starting to fume over my lousy luck, but eventually I calmed down and decided to reconfigure my offerings. I extended the leader from the hopper to the first fly to gain more depth, and then I replaced the prince with a size 12 weighted 20 incher to enable a faster sink rate while leaving the salvation in place. This move paid dividends, as I landed a spunky eleven inch rainbow and a six inch brown trout before I broke for lunch. The rainbow chomped the 20 incher, and the brown trout favored the salvation.
I pretty much stayed with the same three fly combination for the remainder of my time and built the fish count to eight, before I quit at 2:30PM. There was a period, after I was forced to break off the 20 incher and salvation, when I substituted an ultra zug bug and pheasant tail for the salvation, but the substitute nymphs never delivered, and I reverted to the salvation. My catch rate seemed to improve toward the end of my upstream movement, and I netted an eleven inch rainbow and a thirteen inch brown trout. A brown of that size is a trophy in Clear Creek. I suspect the improved catch rate was attributable to a combination of reasons that included warming water temperature due to the sun’s penetration, a narrower streambed which created more depth and better structure, and less pressure because of limited parking and a steep bank next to the road.
At any rate I salvaged an eight fish day on Clear Creek, and I fished for 3.5 hours including my lunch time. The trout were small and picky, as is usually the case, and the wind was quite adverse. I was forced to drive my casts into the wind most of the day, and this action was very tiring to my elbow and shoulder. I was actually quite pleased to net eight fish under the challenging conditions, but Wednesday was not the day I envisioned, when I departed from home at 8:30AM.
Fish Landed: 8