Clear Creek – 02/16/2017

Time: 12:30PM – 2:30PM

Location: Below first bridge after Tunnel 1

Clear Creek 02/16/2017 Photo Album

As I departed the parking lot near Waterton Canyon, I yearned to see a trout nestled in my net on a gorgeous spring-like day in February. My return route took me to the junction of  I70 and C470 near Golden, and that placed me only a few miles east of Clear Creek Canyon. I left my rod in a fully rigged status, so I decided to head west and inspect the conditions on Clear Creek.

After turning left on US 6 I drove west through the narrow canyon for approximately three miles, until I reached the first bridge crossing over the creek. The pullout was completely vacant, so I pulled over and gazed down at the flowing water along the highway. The stream bed was mostly ice free with only a few sections with small ice shelves, so I decided to test the waters for an hour or two. I climbed back into my waders and wading boots and grabbed my Sage One five weight, and then I crossed the highway and hiked downstream below the bridge for five minutes before I carefully maneuvered over a rock jumble to the edge of the stream.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”In the Shadows” type=”image” alt=”P2160003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I initiated my renewed quest for trout number one with a pine squirrel leech and salad spinner, but after a few futile probes of deep runs and pockets, I exchanged the tiny clear thingamabobber for a bright orange version. This improved the visibility, but the fish did not cooperate with a tug, so I once again paused to revise my approach. I removed all the deep nymph paraphernalia, and changed to a dry/dropper setup. A yellow fat Albert was attached as the surface indicator fly, and beneath it I added a beadhead ultra zug bug, and I retained the salad spinner.

This configuration endured for at least 45 minutes, but again I was stymied in my efforts to land the first trout of the year. As I slowly moved along the narrow stream and probed likely locations, I thought I observed a pair of refusals to the fat Albert, and this prompted me to exchange it for a size 8 Chernobyl ant with brown and black barred legs. If fish were refusing the fat Albert, perhaps the more subtle low riding ant would induce them to eat? Unfortunately as I advanced, I continued to experience only arm exercise with no signs of fish. I was in the shadows in the early afternoon, and the dim light and low riding Chernboyl made following my flies challenging.

The lack of action caused me to lose confidence in the ultra zug bug and salad spinner, so I responded by swapping a beadhead hares ear for the salad spinner. The hares ear is one of my most reliable flies year after year, so why not give it some time on my line? At 1:30PM I approached a nice shelf pool on my side of the creek, so I lobbed a couple casts to some deep water between the point of an exposed rock and some faster water. Just as the Chernobyl drifted into the slow moving shelf pocket behind the rock, I detected a pause and reacted with an abrupt hook set. The tip of the rod throbbed as I connected with a fish, and I quickly recognized a brown trout, as it swirled and deployed ineffective escape maneuvers. I maintained tension and gradually guided the eleven inch brown trout to my net, and then I snapped a couple photos and a brief video, as I released the valiant fighter into the ice cold winter flows. I was not surprised to learn that the hungry brown trout gulped the trusted hares ear nymph.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”First Fish of 2017″ type=”image” alt=”P2160004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I resumed fishing, my left hand grew stiff and began to ache as the moisture quickly evaporated in the dry mountain atmosphere. I realized that I was approaching the bridge, and only a few more attractive spaces remained, so I braced myself against the chill and fished on. Surely additional trout were in feeding mode as a result of the unseasonably warm temperatures. Alas this was not the case, and I reeled up my line at 2PM and called it quits. I managed to land one trout on February 16, but that was enough to activate my dormant fervor for fly fishing. Let the fish counter begin.

Fish Landed: 1

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”First Crocus of 2017 As Well” type=”image” alt=”P2160008.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]


South Boulder Creek – 11/15/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir.

South Boulder Creek 11/15/2016 Photo Album

If today Tuesday November 15 was my last outing of 2016, it was a good memory. Flows continued steady from Gross Reservoir at 58.5 CFS, and the weather forecast predicted high temperatures in Denver in the mid-seventies. Upon returning from Clear Creek on Monday evening I refueled and left most of my fishing essentials in the Santa Fe. My right hand and right hip continued to remind me of some residual soreness from my fall the previous week on South Boulder Creek, but I could not forego fishing on a glorious autumn day in November.

I arrived at the upper parking lot below Gross Reservoir by 10AM and only one other car was present. As I pulled on my waders and rigged my Loomis five weight, I grew suspicious that the flows had changed dramatically. I neglected to check them prior to departing. How else could one explain the lack of vehicles on such a spectacular day in Colorado? Fortunately my fears were put to rest, after I descended the steep trail to the edge of the creek, and I rejoiced to witness ideal flows similar to my last few visits to South Boulder Creek.

As I hiked along the path toward the pedestrian bridge on the Walker Loop, I greeted the occupant of the other vehicle, as he was in the long popular pool, and he also applauded the weather and the stream conditions. I continued downstream beyond the bridge a good ways, and eventually cut down to the creek in an area, where the morning sun beamed on the entire width of water. I used my rubber soles for the hike in order to avoid wear on the felt, so I paused to swap the Korker soles. I was not going to make the mistake of wading in South Boulder Creek on the slippery rubber again. I decided to test a Jake’s gulp beetle to determine if my preferred approach would attract the interest of the resident trout.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Shelf Pool Along the Bank Was the Home of the First Fish” type=”image” alt=”PB150027.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”First Fish on Tuesday November 15″ type=”image” alt=”PB150026.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 11AM I was finally in the water, and I began my upstream migration by dropping some short casts to some marginal pockets along the right bank. Apparently the trout did not view the spots as undesirable, and I landed three brown trout within the first fifteen minutes. This pace did not continue, but when I paused to eat lunch in the sunshine ten feet above the creek at noon, the fish count rested at six. I was quite pleased with my level of success in the first hour.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Pool That Delivered the Prize Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”PB150031.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Among the six was a thirteen inch rainbow trout that represented my best fish of the day. I approached a small pool and dropped the beetle into the tiny riffle where water spilled over some rocks at the top of the eight by ten foot smooth area. As the oversized foam beetle bobbed through the deep center section, a fish appeared and moved a foot to view my offering. Unfortunately the beetle did not meet the specifications of the fussy trout, but I persisted with several additional casts with no success. The trout gave away its position when it moved, and I could now see it hovering at the tongue of the faster current and just in front of the deep center trough. I decided to deviate from my normal rule of not lingering on one fish, and I clipped off the beetle and replaced it with a size 18 cinnamon comparadun. Perhaps the South Boulder Creek trout remembered the tasty pale morning duns of August and September.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”My Prize Catch on Tuesday” type=”image” alt=”PB150030.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The small comparadun drifted through the center section on the second cast, and in a flash the sighted fish darted to the surface and sucked in my fly! What a thrill to catch a sizable rainbow on a mayfly imitation on November 15 and after pausing to change flies! I persisted with the comparadun for a few more decent pockets, but the fish did not respond, and it was difficult to follow in the dappled sunlight and swirling currents, so I reverted to Jake’s gulp beetle.

After lunch I continued plopping the beetle mainly along the right bank, and I increased the fish tally to ten, although the gaps between landed fish grew in length. For some reason casts to attractive slow areas along the south side of the creek did not produce, nor did the across and downstream drift that appealed to the trout of Clear Creek. Two or three long distance releases were also in the early afternoon mix, and I was quite disappointed to lose one particularly nice trout that smacked the beetle tight to an exposed rock wall. I could see it flash to the surface, and its size may have topped the morning rainbow.

By 1:30 I reached a fast pocket water area with huge boulders strewn about the narrow stream bed. I prospected some nice deep pools on the lower end of this stretch, but then I scaled some large boulders and accessed the path to circle around. The beetle ceased producing, so I resorted to the dry/dropper method, and I knotted the standard lineup to my line of a fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear, and a salvation nymph. The change did not immediately reverse my fortunes, but after a bit, I landed a tiny rainbow trout that snatched the hares ear. I did not count the sub six inch baby, but I was pleased that it recognized one of my nymphs as food.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Another South Boulder Creek Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PB150033.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once again I was forced to climb back to the path to circumnavigate some huge boulders blocking my path. A short distance farther upstream the path angled back to the creek, and before I waded along the edge of a high rock wall, I dropped the nymphs in a short deep hole. The downstream border of the pocket contained a long angled log, and as I lifted the dangling nymphs to make another cast, a nine inch brown trout locked on the hares ear. This trout proved to be the last fish of the day and potentially the last fish of 2016.

I continued along the path and paused at several juicy locations that delivered fish on prior trips, but they were not productive on November 15. One of these spots was the spectacular pool that produced a pair of brown trout on the cinnamon comparadun on November 4. I paused in an attempt to repeat the past, but I was unsuccessful. I did spot several rises, and I once again replaced the dry/dropper with a size 18 cinnamon comparadun, but the pool residents were not interested in my mayfly imitation in the middle of November. I also flicked a size 18 black parachute ant over the rise locations, but the small terrestrial was not on their menu.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Ground Cover Holly” type=”image” alt=”PB150032.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I vacated the attractive pool and sauntered up the path and stopped at a couple more historical hot spots, but by 2:30 I was bored with the lack of action. My confidence was low and very little water remained that was not shrouded in shade, so I placed my legs in the express gear and returned to the car.

When I arrive to fish, I routinely throw my wallet and iPhone in the glove box and lock it. At the end of the day one of the last things I do before turning the key in the ignition is to unlock the glove box and remove the phone and wallet. On Tuesday, however, when I opened the safe chamber, the phone was visible, but my wallet was no where to be found. I searched the manuals to make sure the bill fold did not get trapped between pages, but that was not the case. Next I dumped all the contents of my tote bag on the front seat in case I never placed it in the glove box. I was fairly certain that I stowed two items, but my mind began to suggest that perhaps I was remembering the many previous similar actions.

Finally I gave up my search and concluded that I never packed my wallet after using it to pay for gasoline on Monday evening. Surely it would appear in one of the usual spots upon my return home. I called Jane when I reached cell range, and she made a cursory check of some likely spots with no success. I was growing increasingly concerned, but I was positive the wallet was either in the car or house.

When I pulled into the garage, I unloaded my lunch bag, water bottle, snacks and tote bag first. Jane assisted and inspected the tote bag, while I grabbed my headlamp and returned to the glove box. I opened the compartment and carefully inspected all the contents, but my wallet was not attached to anything. I shined the light on the floor, under the passenger seat, and along the edges of the seat. Nothing. I grabbed my fleece from the rear and checked the pockets in case I deviated from my normal routine and placed it in one of the fleece pockets. This was not the answer. Finally for some reason I returned to the glove box and opened it. I noticed that the compartment pivoted forward and created a four inch gap between the back edge of the plastic top border and the bottom of the dashboard opening. I reached my small hands into the gap, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel the soft leather surface of my wallet. I carefully pinched it and slowly extracted it from the glove box hinterland. I must have shoved it into the gap in my haste to go fishing.

Whew! This was a happy ending to a fine day of late autumn fishing on South Boulder Creek. Will this be the last day of the year? Who knows, but a cold front is predicted to move through Colorado on Thursday leaving high temperatures in the forties for Friday. I may finally be confined to the fly tying bench after all.

Fish Landed: 11

Clear Creek – 11/14/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Tunnel 3 to MM 264.5 area

Clear Creek 11/14/2016 Photo Album

Surprise. I fished again today on November 14. I felt sufficiently recovered from my bruised hip and hand to venture on to Clear Creek for 3.5 hours. The high temperature in Denver was upper sixties, and this translated to around sixty degrees in the canyon, but it felt more like fifty degrees due to the relentless wind that blasted through the narrow space between tight rock walls.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Small Tributary to Clear Creek Near Tunnel 3″ type=”image” alt=”PB140011.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I arrived at the pullout beyond Tunnel 3 at 10:30 and after assembling my Loomis five weight and pulling on my waders, I was ready to fish by 11:00AM. Since the air temperature on my dashboard registered sixty degrees, I was surprised to discover that I needed four layers, and even with that apparent excess of clothing, I felt chilled at times. I descended from US 6 where a small side tributary entered from the north, and I immediately tied a Jake’s gulp beetle to my line. I always test this fly first on Clear Creek, because if it works, it is my preferred option.

The first fifteen minutes did not produce any interaction with trout, and I was entertaining thoughts of abandoning the stalwart beetle, when I observed a pair of refusals. This renewed my faith in the beetle, so I persisted, and just before noon I managed to hook and land a small brown trout. I gave the foam beetle a reprieve and continued fishing it, until I broke for lunch just past noon, but it only accounted for one landed fish, two refusals, and a temporary hook up.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”My Third Landed Fish Was This Shimmering Rainbow Trout” type=”image” alt=”PB140012.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Looks Fishy” type=”image” alt=”PB140013.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch the wind velocity increased, and I decided to switch to a dry/dropper alignment. As usual I opted for the yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead ultra zug bug. The trio of heavier flies would assist my attempts to punch casts into the wind, but I also significantly increased my risk of entanglement. For the most part the shift in strategy paid off, and I accumulated seven additional landed fish before I quit at 2:30. I did experience a few tangles, but I exercised extra care when casting by allowing my line to fully extend before executing the forward stroke.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”It Was and Yielded This Nice Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PB140014.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Most of the afternoon fish snatched the hares ear, although two grabbed the ultra zug bug. The first two apres lunch eaters were rainbow trout, and I speculated that this indicated that the mature brown trout were busy with their spawning ritual and thus not chowing down. The next five fish landed in the afternoon, however, turned out to be brown trout; so I am not certain that my spawning theory was valid. The pace of action was average, as exhibited by my catch rate, and I covered a lot of stream and scrambled over many rocks in order to achieve my modest fish count. I suspect that the cold overnight temperatures are making the resident trout lethargic, and tight canyon walls block the warming effect of the sun.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Anxious to Drift the Area Next to the Large Rock” type=”image” alt=”PB140018.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Shortly after lunch I approached a nice deep pocket that was located in the middle of the stream. Normally midstream spots do not deliver on Clear Creek, but I decided to allocate a few casts, as I progressed upstream along the right bank. I dropped the first cast in the middle of the deep 4 X 4 hole, and as the fat Albert drifted toward the tail, a trout rose and pressed its nose against the large foam indicator fly. I paused a bit, but then just before drag set in, I lifted with a tentative hook set. I began to curse the refusal, when I felt a tug and weight on my line. Apparently the lead trout initiated my hook set with a refusal, and my lifting action prompted a ten inch brown trout to latch on to the trailing ultra zug bug. If you fish often, you will surely experience new and different events.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”One of the Ultra Zug Bug Fans” type=”image” alt=”PB140017.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Overall it was a decent day for November 14. By the time I adjourned to the Santa Fe, my fingers were beginning to ache, and my feet felt like frozen stumps. The fishing was relatively slow, but I continued to take advantage of the mild fall weather. A cold front is predicted for Thursday, so my 2016 fishing adventures may be on life support.

Fish Landed: 8

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Keeping an Eye on Me” type=”image” alt=”PB140022.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Clear Creek – 11/03/2016

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Mile Marker 260.5 area

Clear Creek 11/03/2016 Photo Album

Jane and I returned from New Mexico on Tuesday, and I once again directed my attention toward the Denver weather. Could the string of beautiful fall days continue? In short the answer was yes, so I planned a November fishing outing to nearby Clear Creek. It was in the low fifties when I arrived at the pullout just beyond the third pedestrian bridge along the Peaks to Plains Trail, and when I departed at 3:30PM the air temperature registered in the low sixties

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Manmade Improvements Where I Began” type=”image” alt=”PB030065.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]


I began my fishing day with a Jake’s gulp beetle with the hope that it would be on fire as was the case in several earlier visits, but all I could muster was infrequent refusals. I switched to a small size 10 Chernobyl ant with a beadhead hares ear, and this yielded two small rainbow trout by 12:30, when I broke for lunch. After lunch I experienced mostly empty casts along with a couple refusals to the Chernobyl, so I reverted to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle with a peacock body. Perhaps the warmer air temperatures in the afternoon would make the trout more receptive to juicy terrestrials on the surface.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”This Rainbow Chomped a Caddis” type=”image” alt=”PB030066.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 1:30 I added two more small rainbows that consumed the beetle to the fish count, and then I switched to a yellow floss body fat Albert trailing a beadhead hares ear and an ultra zug bug. Amazingly shortly after the conversion a rainbow rose and slurped the fat Albert, and then another rainbow grabbed the hares ear. I was now at six fish; all rainbows on a predominantly brown trout stream. Given the seasonal timing I concluded that the brown trout were busy procreating and not interested in eating. Normally the ratio of brown trout to rainbow trout is roughly five to one if not greater.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Kind of Water That Produced” type=”image” alt=”PB030070.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

As the fish counter reached six, the shadows covered most of the stream, and I began fishing the dry/dropper across and down in order to cover the slack water areas along the far bank. This approach proved to be a winner, and I landed seven more fish between 2:00 and 3:00, when I quit with icy hands and cold feet. The late run on netted fish included four brown trout, and these fish were mostly larger than any of the rainbows. The browns seemed to come from very shallow slow areas close to the bank; whereas, the rainbows were distributed throughout the stream.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Best Brown Trout of the Day Fell for a Downstream Presentation” type=”image” alt=”PB030069.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The rainbows were more aggressive, and several grabbed the ultra zug bug, as it began to swing away from the bank at the tail of the pool. I probably wasted too much time trying to entice fish to the surface during early November, and it seemed that the refusals to the beetle and Chernobyl were brown trout; whereas, most of the fish that grabbed the nymphs in the first 2.5 hours were rainbows. I did not spot any spawning beds, and four afternoon brown trout responded to my subsurface offerings, so my earlier explanation about the abnormal ratio of rainbow trout may not be accurate.

It was a decent day as measured by fish count for early November; however, the fish were on the small side with the largest being an eleven inch brown. I will continue to prioritize fly fishing over fly tying as long as the weather provides comfortable temperatures.

Fish Landed: 13

Clear Creek – 10/26/2016

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Around mile marker 267.5, below first bridge after tunnel 1 heading west.

Clear Creek 10/26/2016 Photo Album

A forecast of high temperatures in the seventies unleashed a strong desire to take advantage of the unseasonably mild weather, so I scheduled another fishing excursion to Clear Creek. A day on the Arkansas River and the Taylor River provided a break from the small local stream, so I felt another short trip was appropriate. I packed my lunch and gear and left Denver a bit after 10:45, and this enabled me to park in the pullout just beyond the first bridge after Tunnel 1 when heading west on US 6 by 11:30. Since it was nearly lunch time, I downed my sandwich, carrots and yogurt before I pulled on my waders and assembled my Loomis five weight.

I crossed the highway and hiked downstream along the south bank until the trail faded, and then I scrambled down some large rocks until I was along the creek. The flow was around 45 cfs and consistent with my experience in October of 2016, and a tinge of color was visible although not enough to impact the fishing. The air temperature was in the sixties in the canyon, so I wore a long sleeved undershirt and fleece for the entire three hours. Normally this many layers would translate to being over dressed, but I remained in the shade of the canyon wall all afternoon.

I began my fishing day with a Jake’s gulp beetle. During my last visit on October 21, the beetle produced six fish, but it was not the popular food source that generated frenzied feeding in early October visits. Nevertheless the air temperature was more favorable on Wednesday, so I gambled that the fish would look to the surface and remember their fondness for beetle snacks. It was a reasonable theory, but apparently the cold nights removed beetles from the trout menu, as I was unable to produce more than a refusal on the size 12 peacock body Jake’s gulp beetle.

After fifteen minutes I ended the beetle experiment and converted to a dry/dropper configuration. I tied a fat Albert with a light yellow floss body to my line for visibility in the shadows, and then I added a beadhead hares ear nymph and an ultra zug bug. Initially these flies were also left undisturbed, but then I landed two small browns in quick succession. Both fish nabbed the hares ear nymph. Once I boosted the fish count to two, my catch rate accelerated. I progressed upstream mainly along the left bank and tossed the fat Albert in all the inviting deep pockets and runs.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Keep Them Wet” type=”image” alt=”PA260029.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Between 12:30 and 2:30 the hares ear and zug bug were magical. I boosted the fish count to fourteen, and one decent brown trout even gobbled the fat Albert. I thoroughly enjoyed prospecting the likely holding lies with rapid fire casts and three to five drifts. Most of the fish emerged from the deep slow moving holes and pockets that bordered the rocky south bank. I tested the opposite bank with downstream drifts, but this ploy did not pay dividends in a manner similar to earlier Clear Creek fishing trips.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Very Nice Clear Creek Brown” type=”image” alt=”PA260035.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Do fish have meal times similar to human beings? The steady feeding came to an abrupt end at 2:30, and I covered a significant distance without so much as a refusal. It seemed odd that the fish suddenly stopped feeding after some fairly aggressive action in the previous two hours. Perhaps a headmaster blew a whistle and ushered them back to their resting spots for the remainder of the day.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Bit of Sunlight Ahead” type=”image” alt=”PA260034.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 3:00 the canyon was blanketed with shadows, the air temperature dropped a few degrees, and the fish decided to fast; so I reeled up my flies and climbed the steep bank to the highway. I was a short distance above my car, and as I hiked along the shoulder, I heard voices echoing across the canyon. I gazed upward and saw two rock climbers scaling the vertical canyon wall above me. I was not the only Colorado resident taking advantage of the mild late October weather. Stay tuned as the weather forecast is very favorable through the remainder of the week.

Fish Landed: 14

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Sharing My Space” type=”image” alt=”PA260037.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Clear Creek – 10/21/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Upstream from MM 263.0 to construction area and then downstream from MM 264.0 and back to the car.

Clear Creek 10/21/2016 Photo Album

Could I continue my hot streak of catching trout on Clear Creek with Jake’s gulp beetle? I decided to find out on Friday October 21. After two days of colder day time highs, the weather was shifting with highs in the seventies predicted for Denver.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Rock Climbers Rest High Above Clear Creek” type=”image” alt=”PA210001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I set out for Clear Creek Canyon at 10AM, and I arrived at a parking space just below the Peak to Plains Trail construction area by 10:45. Once again I assembled my Loomis two piece five weight and proceeded to walk along busy US 6, until I was just above a large rock formation and the mile marker 263.0 pullout. I angled down a worn path and tied a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line. Several deep pockets existed next to my starting position, so I began to probe their depths with my beetle. I tucked myself next to the large boulder, so that I was hidden from any cautious fish. Reassuringly on the fifth cast, as the beetle slowly floated within an inch of the rock face, a twelve inch brown darted up and chomped the foam impostor. What a start!

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Twelve Inch Surprise Starts My Day” type=”image” alt=”PA210002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Although the air temperature reached the low seventies in the canyon in the afternoon, it was in the fifties when I began, and I remained in the shade of the south wall of the canyon nearly the entire time. I wore my long sleeved Under Armour shirt, my fishing shirt and a raincoat, and I was comfortable; although the evaporation effect forced me to remove my sungloves, and my feet morphed into frozen fence posts by the early afternoon. Nevertheless I pursued the trout of Clear Creek with intensity using my beetle.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Slack Water Along the Far Bank Delivered” type=”image” alt=”PA210003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I applied the knowledge I gained in recent outings, and when I encountered attractive locations on the south side of the creek, I executed casts directly across and deployed a downstream drift with frequent short mends. By noon when I enjoyed a lunch break, I was pleased to record three netted fish including the best fish of the day, the initial twelve incher.

After lunch I continued upstream, and I managed to notch three more trout on my fish counter, but the action was quite a bit slower than my previous visit on Tuesday. Given the lower catch rate, I decided to experiment, and I deviated from the peacock gulp beetle for the first time in quite awhile. I was curious if the body color of the beetle mattered, so I knotted a size 10 beetle with a red body to my line and began to serve this bright morsel to the Clear Creek study group. Early on a rainbow slurped the beetle in a deep swirling junction of two currents, but then the red foam terrestrial began to elicit refusals. In addition for some reason the large red beetle repeatedly landed on its back, so I decided to make another change.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Another Decent Clear Creek Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA210005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

It was at this time that I reached the downstream border of the pathway construction zone, so I exited the canyon, walked back to the car, and drove east toward Golden until I was below mile marker 264.0. Once again I ambled along the highway, and then I dropped down a steep bank, until I was once again positioned along the stream. The canyon was narrower in this area than where I began, so I fished exclusively in the shade in the afternoon.

As I mentioned, I was disappointed with the red beetle and with the fish attracting appeal of Jake’s gulp beetle on Tuesday. I pondered my next move, and I decided to try a dry/dropper. I pulled a trusted fat Albert with a light yellow body from my box, and then I added an ultra zug bug on a three foot dropper. The ultra zug bug was a strong producer during autumn in previous years.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Pools and Canyon Walls” type=”image” alt=”PA210007.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Between 1:30 and 3:00 I landed three more brown trout to bring my cumulative tally to nine. All the trout netted at the mile marker 264 location grabbed the trailing ultra zug bug, as it began to drag away from rock structure in runs and pockets. I also experienced a momentary hook up on the fat Albert as well as a refusal or two. Also in the last thirty minutes I upped my pace and moved quickly between juicy spots in an effort to hit double digits, and during this time I endured two long distance releases. Clearly the catch rate improved while I deployed the dry/dropper configuration, so I am forced to report that the Jake’s gulp beetle hot streak reached an end.

At 2:45 I climbed out of the canyon and returned to the car, and then I drove to Mayhem Gulch, where I met Jane. We completed a thirty-five minute round trip bike ride on the newly completed section of the Peak to Plains Trail, and then we adjourned to the Cannonball Brew Pub in Golden for some liquid refreshments. Friday was a fun day, but the frenzied attacks on Jake’s gulp beetle are likely a thing of the past. Nevertheless, I am not ready to put my fishing gear into storage for 2016.

Fish Landed: 9

Clear Creek – 10/18/2016

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: .4 miles below mile marker 263.0

Clear Creek 10/18/2016 Photo Album

Jake’s gulp beetle rocks, and I am in love with moody Clear Creek. Jane and I returned from a five day trip to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia on Monday; and even if I had time to fish, the blustery wind guaranteed that I would not. Tuesday was forecast to be cooler but less windy, so I made plans to visit Clear Creek. Prior to our trip I enjoyed several very productive days on Clear Creek, and in fact the size of the fish were comparable if not greater than my landed count on the Big Thompson. With winter around the corner I valued the idea of investing only a forty-five minute drive in case the weather was uncooperative.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Nice Yellow Color on the Left” type=”image” alt=”PA180094.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I arrived at a pullout near mile marker 263.0 at 11:15, and I rigged my Loomis five weight and stuffed my lunch in my backpack, before I hiked downstream along the narrow shoulder along US 6. The ever present large trucks and buses whizzed by, and several times I climbed over the guard rail to obtain a margin of safety. After a .4 mile walk I scrambled down a steep bank and used a jumble of large rocks as my stair steps.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Another Decent Rainbow Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA180102.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Jake’s gulp beetle was my workhorse fly on October 9 and 10, so I decided to stick with a winner and knotted a size 12 to my line. Once again the water was crystal clear and the flows were reported to be 42 cfs. The air temperature was 54 degrees, and I bundled up a bit with my long sleeved under layer, and I added my raincoat for a windbreaker. For my head gear I wore my billed New Zealand hat with ear flaps, and this proved to be a solid move.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Pretty Section Ahead” type=”image” alt=”PA180096.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I began flicking the foam beetle to likely locations along the right bank, and I attracted interest almost immediately, but unfortunately the two early beetle eaters escaped the hook after a momentary connection. I was a bit concerned over this ominous start to my day on Clear Creek.

I maintained my optimism and progressed to the next attractive area only twenty-five feet beyond my starting point. Here a relatively wide smooth pool of moderate depth revealed itself on the opposite side of the creek. I recalled my success with downstream casts during my most recent visits, so I positioned myself toward the top of the pool albeit on the side of the stream that bordered the road. I shot a cast across and reached the fly line upstream and then executed several quick mends. This technique paid large dividends, as I landed one rainbow and three brown trout from the target area. The two long distance releases faded from my memory, and a jolt of optimism shot through my brain.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Good View of the Beetle” type=”image” alt=”PA180103.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I broke for lunch at 12:15 and then continued on my way until I quit just short of the Santa Fe at 3PM. I primarily remained on the right bank, since the sunlight made it easier to follow my fly, but when I encountered juicy sections on the south bank, I repeated the across and downstream maneuver, that I described in the previous paragraph, and in most cases it produced. I estimate that the across and down technique delivered sixty percent of the fish that I landed, and the remainder resulted from the more conventional upstream cast. The air temperature never exceeded the sixty degree line, but the wind was not bothersome, and I was reasonably comfortable when in the shade or when clouds blocked the radiant heat from the sun. I did forego wearing my sungloves to avoid the cooling effect caused by evaporation.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Larger Than Average” type=”image” alt=”PA180104.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Collection Point” type=”image” alt=”PA180101.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I reached twenty-five on the fish counter, it was 2:45PM, and a man and young boy appeared along the bank above me. At first I was not certain what they were up to, but I did not spot any fishing gear. Eventually as I waded closer, I noted that the man had three large five gallon plastic buckets, and I assumed he was panning for gold. Fortunately the stream was relatively wide at this point, so I moved toward the middle and waded around him, while I prospected the likely holding spots on the south bank. The strategy worked, and I added three more fish to my total during this time period, and then I reeled up my fly and called it a day.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”I Love the Clarity of This One” type=”image” alt=”PA180108.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

On Tuesday October 18 I had a blast. I landed 28 trout, and they all savored the foam beetle. The only negative was the three peacock body gulp beetles that I left in the mouths of Clear Creek trout. I restocked my fly box, but I fear that I will need to supplement my supply for the few remaining days of the 2016 season. If I continue catching fish during the late fall season, I will not mind producing a few more beetles.

Fish Landed: 28


Clear Creek – 10/10/2016

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: A mile or two downstream from Mayhem Gulch

Clear Creek 10/10/2016 Photo Album

Normally I subscribe to the theory that change is a constant in fly fishing, but today October 10 was nearly a repeat of yesterday on Clear Creek. The high temperature on Monday was in the low seventies and slightly warmer than Sunday, but the wind was a much greater factor, and in fact when I arrived next to the stream, I almost returned home, as the wind whistled by my ears and rustled the streamside vegetation. Fortunately I persisted, and the wind velocity subsided a bit after a rough first thirty minutes. The flows and clarity remained a constant, but I chose to fish a stretch of the creek that was approximately two miles east of the segment that I covered on Sunday.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Perfect Water” type=”image” alt=”PA100017.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Splotchy Pattern on This First Landed Fish” type=”image” alt=”PA100016.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After I assembled my Loomis two piece five weight, I stuffed my lunch in my backpack, and I found a relatively easy path to the edge of the creek. Similar to Sunday I knotted a size 12 peacock Jake’s gulp beetle to my line, and I began casting to the likely fish holding spots along the right bank that bordered US 6. I did not wait long before a small brown trout rocketed to the surface and smashed the impostor beetle. I continued prospecting the edge of the creek from 11:30 until 3PM, and I netted sixteen trout during this time period. The fish count included three small rainbows, and the remainder were feisty brown trout. Similar to Sunday I endured numerous refusals and temporary hook ups, but these frustrations occurred with much less frequency.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Area in Front of the Log Produced” type=”image” alt=”PA100020.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The significant adverse factors were the wind, tricky lighting and the loss of two gulp beetles over the course of my progression up Clear Creek. The first lost beetle was the victim of an errant backcast that wrapped the fly and leader around a dead tree limb. I initially broke the leader at a surgeon’s knot, and then I actually succeeded in knocking the fly free with the aid of my wading staff, but a gust of wind swept the leader and fly past my head, and I was unable to spot it in the rushing creek. The second beetle duped a decent trout, but then it broke free, and a quick inspection revealed that the knot may have been nicked or abraded.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Pretty Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA100021.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

For most of the afternoon the lighting along the right bank made following the beetle very difficult in spite of the small orange indicator strip. I compensated by wading toward the center of the stream a bit and then cast back toward the bank. This worked in some places, but inevitably there were reaches where I was unable to wade into an advantageous position.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Shelf Pool Screams Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA100023.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Amazingly the technique that produced the most fish was utilizing a downstream drift along the opposite bank. When I spotted a section of slow moving slack water of significant depth along the south bank, I positioned myself near the top and across from the target stretch. I cast across and made frequent steady mends to offset drag, and I was shocked how often a nice brown trout would move two or even three feet, as it followed the beetle and eventually snatched it near the lip of the pool. The fish put on quite a show, and I loved the visual effect of a streaking fish following and crushing its victim. My percentage of landed fish using this approach far surpassed my success rate when casting upstream or up and across.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Perhaps Best Ever Clear Creek Catch” type=”image” alt=”PA100024.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At around 2 o’clock on one of these downstream drifts I connected with a larger than average brown trout. This battler put quite a bend in the five weight, and when I finally scooped it in my net, I estimated that it was the largest trout that I ever landed from the small front range stream. I guessed that it measured somewhere between twelve and thirteen inches.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Relatively Rare Rainbow Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA100027.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once again I enjoyed a fun action packed day on Clear Creek. Although the fish are relatively small, they are not easily fooled, and I love the challenge of reading the water types. Clear Creek Canyon offers nine or ten miles of public access, and quite a bit of the tumbling creek remains to be explored. A fun day of fishing on October 10 is welcome and highly appreciated.

Fish Landed: 16

Clear Creek – 10/09/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: MM261.5 and then upstream .5 mile

Clear Creek 10/09/2016 Photo Album

Sunday was forecast to be a gorgeous fall day with high temperatures spiking in the seventies in Denver, so I once again felt the itch to exercise my arm and toss some flies. I experienced an enjoyable day on Clear Creek on Wednesday October 5, so I decided to repeat the short drive to the canyon. I purposely avoid fishing on weekends since I reached retirement status, but I made an exception on Sunday, so I could take advantage of the dwindling nice weather.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Pretty Day on Clear Creek” type=”image” alt=”PA090001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I arrived at the second parking lot along the newly opened Peak to Plains Trail at 10:30AM, and after assembling my Loomis five weight rod, I walked along the shoulder of US 6 until I was .2 miles below the pedestrian bridge and just above mile marker 261.5. The temperature was in the mid to upper fifties as I tied a size 12 peacock dubbed Jake’s gulp beetle to my line. The creek was ideal with flows in the 45 cfs range, and the clarity was perfect. I could see a fisherman hovering near the bridge, but he seemed fairly stationary, and I planned on circling around him if necessary to continue my upstream progression.

I began casting the beetle along the right bank, and in a short amount of time I witnessed several refusals and a momentary hook up. I began to evaluate a fly change and also rued the likely commencement of bad karma, when a small brown trout slashed at and consumed the beetle. This put a momentary halt on my negative thoughts, and I focused anew on the process of plopping the large beetle in the ten foot band along the north edge of the stream.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Deep Coloration on This Slightly Larger Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA090004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Between 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock I landed twelve small trout on the beetle. At one point the large foam terrestrial broke off, and I caught myself casting a line with no fly on it. I felt rather foolish, but I quickly remedied the situation and knotted a size 14 version of the same beetle to my line and resumed. I am still not sure what caused the fly to separate, but I can only guess that the line acquired an abrasion or the knot was faulty.

[peg-image src=”–McbTfL0v4E/V_ueIpDYkvI/AAAAAAABDjc/YU1XA8dlAewmL5To58NVWULJNXgZVz_JQCCo/s144-o/PA090008.JPG” href=”″ caption=”New Pedestrian Bridge Ahead” type=”image” alt=”PA090008.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After a few more fish I approached the pedestrian bridge, and while some spectators paused to observe, I landed a pair of small trout. A young lady queried me as to what I caught, and I replied that it was a rainbow trout. Somehow a section of the small narrow foam indicator on the size 14 beetle broke off, and I was struggling to follow the tiny remaining spot, so I exited the creek below the bridge, and returned to the car to pick up three new peacock beetles.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Huge Head Spots on This One” type=”image” alt=”PA090010.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

From 1:00 until 2:30 I worked my way upstream from the bridge, until I finally called it a day, so I could catch the second half of the Broncos’ loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The water upstream from the bridge was not as attractive to me, as the creek bed widened, and this created more wide shallow areas and reduced the number of attractive deep pockets and runs along the bank. Clear Creek brown trout love the cover provided by the great quantity of streamside boulders along the bank.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Productive Jake’s Gulp Beetle” type=”image” alt=”PA090014.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Sunday was a fun day. Indecision over fly choice was never a factor, as I plopped a size 12 or 14 beetle the entire time. The fly was not perfect as evidenced by the many refusals and temporary connections, but it worked often enough to yield seventeen fish, and the anticipation of a rising fish sustained my interest for three and a half hours. If only the Broncos could have generated similar success on their Sunday endeavor on the gridiron.

Fish Landed: 17

Clear Creek – 10/05/2016

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Mayhem Gulch

Clear Creek 10/05/2016 Photo Album

After spending more time driving than fishing on Monday and then engaging in a battle with a windstorm, I did not wish to commit another huge amount of travel time to my fly fishing outing on Wednesday. I adopted a standard policy of checking not only the forecast of temperature and precipitation, but I also included wind speed in my review. With South Boulder Creek now raging at 210 cfs, and the Big Thompson farther than I wished to drive, Clear Creek became an obvious choice. The flows remained at a respectable 45 cfs, and the high temperature for Idaho Springs was projected to be in the upper 50’s. My weather application indicated that wind velocity would remain in the high single digits.

I read my blog posts for two ventures to Clear Creek in early October in 2015 and 2014, and the documented success convinced me that the creek west of Golden, CO was the place to be. I read that the Peaks to Plains Trail segment in the western portion of the canyon opened in July, so I convinced Jane to tag along. She planned to hike the full Peaks to Plains Trail, while I attempted to entice Clear Creek trout with my personally tied flies.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Typical Water” type=”image” alt=”PA050002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Because of the cold front that moved through Denver on Monday, I delayed our departure until 10:15AM, and at that time we made the drive to the Mayhem Gulch parking area in the western section of Clear Creek Canyon. Mayhem Gulch is located at the eastern end of the newly opened trail. I wore my fleece sweater and raincoat for added warmth, and I assembled my Orvis Access four weight for the relatively small but swift stream. When Jane was ready, we hiked through the tunnel beneath busy US 6, and then we proceeded west on the new trail on the south side of the creek. After a fifteen minute walk, I climbed over the cable fence and descended over some large rocks to the edge of the creek.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Almost Charcoal Body” type=”image” alt=”PA050003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

To begin my quest for cold water inhabitants of the rushing stream, I tied a size 10 Chernobyl ant to my line and began to cast to likely fish holding locations. Initially I experienced several refusals to the large foam attractor, so I hedged my bets, and I added a beadhead hares ear nymph. Over the next half hour I managed to land two small brown trout that slurped the Chernobyl. A fifty/fifty split between refusals and hooked fish in the morning mirrored my experience over the remainder of my fishing time on Wednesday.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Beautiful Scene” type=”image” alt=”PA050004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch I continued working my way upstream, as I crossed back and forth from north to south and vice versa. During this time period I incremented the fish count from two to six, and this included several small rainbow trout that snatched the trailing hares ear nymph. Oddly of the fourteen fish that I landed on Wednesday, five were rainbow trout, and all but one ate the nymph. Conversely nearly all the brown trout smashed the Chernobyl ant. After an exceptionally long streak of refusals, I recalled my 2015 blog post, when I resorted to a Jake’s gulp beetle and enjoyed a boost in my catch rate. I decided to repeat the strategy.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Big Appetite” type=”image” alt=”PA050006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The beetle occupied my line for thirty minutes and accounted for two brown trout, but I concluded that it lagged the Chernobyl in fish attraction capability. In addition it was much more difficult to track in the shadows and glare that predominated the early afternoon. I reverted to a different Chernobyl ant since the original version lost its hind legs. Once again I added the beadhead hares ear, and I resumed my upstream migration in a similar zig zag pattern.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Handsome Rainbow Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA050008.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Between 1:15 and 3PM I landed six additional trout, and the Chernobyl dominated the action. One surprise catch was an eleven inch rainbow that crushed the oversized ant imitation . Most of my afternoon success occurred along the edges of the creek, so I moved rather quickly and ignored the water between the banks. The sun peeked out for a bit during this time, and the wind subsided, and I enjoyed a momentary respite. Unfortunately the weather break was short lived, and some large gray clouds blew in the from the west to create more poor lighting.

Wednesday was a fun day and a nice comeback from my frustrating day on the South Platte River on Monday. My confidence is on the rise, and I am already planning another outing on Thursday, although the weather pattern is expected to continue on the cool side.

Fish Landed: 14