Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM
Location: Mayhem Gulch area and then downstream from trail construction
Faced with high temperatures in the mid-60’s in Denver, CO, and basking in the accomplishment of landing my first fish of the year on February 17 in Clear Creek Canyon, I decided to venture forth on another February fishing trip. Of course being saddled with an injured knee that prevents me from skiing was another factor edging me toward the stream rather than the slopes.
Jane accompanied me on another quick visit to Clear Creek, and we arrived at the parking lot at Mayhem Gulch at 10:45. Jane decided to hike the Centennial Cone Trail, while I prepared to explore Clear Creek upstream from the Peak to Plains Trail bridge. The temperature was 48 degrees as I prepared to fish, and occasional strong gusts of wind swept down the canyon, so I elected to wear my Adidas pullover in addition to my fleece layer for the morning session.
The creek was clear and flowing nicely at around 25 CFS, as I rigged my line with a three fly offering that featured a yellow fat Albert as the surface indicator and a size 14 copper john followed by a beadhead hares ear nymph. The section of water that I covered in the morning was mostly in the sun, but it was wide and relatively shallow with only a few deep slower moving areas that offered decent prospects for fish. After fifteen minutes of futile casting and searching, I approached a nice slower moving shelf pool, and I lobbed my flies to the edge of the faster current. As the fat Albert drifted into the side pool, I observed a flash and set the hook. I felt a momentary connection, but then the fish was gone, and I was disappointed to miss my first hook up. Fish do not usually feed again after feeling the penetration of a hook, but this trout must have been exceptionally hungry, as it snatched the tumbling copper john on the very next drift. I maintained a taut line and quickly scooped an eight inch rainbow into my net. It was great to experience success early on my Monday fly fishing outing.
I continued upstream and carefully maneuvered over a large ice shelf until I reached water that was more suitable to edge fishing. Unfortunately the improved stream structure did not improve my luck, and I climbed the rocky bank to access the highway at 11:50. I returned to the car and grabbed my lunch, and after two bites of my sandwich Jane arrived and joined me. We situated ourselves on the eastern side of the Santa Fe and used it as a relatively effective wind screen.
Jane indicated she was open to moving to another location, so after lunch we drove a mile east of the construction zone and parked just below a series of yellow arrow signs at a sharp bend in the road. I hiked west along the shoulder of the busy highway, until I reached a manageable path that enabled me to descend the steep bank, and I resumed my upstream migration with the three fly dry/dropper system. The wind factor became a significant nuisance, as strong gusts played havoc with my casts, but I managed to persist. I added four more trout to my count between 12:30 and 2:00, and one chomped the copper john, while the other three consumed the hares ear.
Surprisingly four of my landed fish on February 20 were rainbow trout and one was a brown trout. Historically I catch 80-90% brown trout from Clear Creek, so the preponderance of rainbows was baffling. The last fish of the day was also the best, as a twelve inch rainbow snatched the hares ear, as it began to swing away from the far bank on an across and downstream drift.
I was quite pleased with five fish during 2.5 hours of fishing on Presidents’ Day 2017, although the fish were admittedly on the small side. The experience was not entirely a pleasure ride, however, as I battled the relentless gusts of wind. Fortunately I tethered my hat to my head with a retaining strap, because it was blasted from my noggin at least three times. I also struggled with two wind aided tangles, and unraveling monofilament between gusts of rushing air was not enjoyable. The forecast for Tuesday predicts even warmer temperatures, but also stronger wind velocity. Should I plan another trip?
Fish Landed: 5