Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM
Location: A mile west of tunnel 1 and then at MM 264.0
Wednesday on Clear Creek was not what I expected. I was still fairly elated over my thirteen fish day on the North Fork of the St. Vrain on Friday, March 3, and I was certain that the return of milder March temperatures on March 8 would provoke some decent fishing on Clear Creek. Unfortunately I failed to account for the fact that the North Fork of the St. Vrain is a tailwater; whereas, Clear Creek is a freestone stream. In addition Clear Creek flows through a narrow canyon, and thus the ice and snow do not absorb as much direct sunlight.
From a weather standpoint it was quite nice with the temperature hovering around sixty degrees, as I geared up to fish at 11:30 on Wednesday. I felt infrequent gusts of wind at my perch along route 6, but I sensed that I could manage the hindrance by taking advantage of the long lulls in between. A flagman was halting traffic just beyond the next bend causing a backup, so I used the stoppage to execute a quick U-turn, and I parked facing east on the other side of the highway just below some construction equipment. The area next to the pullout was largely bathed in sunlight, and the stream segment was near the area I targeted. The section of the stream I planned to fish was the closest to Golden of any of my previous Clear Creek ventures.
Since it was approaching noon I decided to quickly consume my lunch by the car rather than add weight to my backpack. Upon the completion of my lunch, I grabbed my Loomis five weight and scrambled down the steep rocky bank to the edge of the stream. The water was crystal clear, and it flowed along at a desirable pace of 28 CFS. I followed my recent practice and tied on a yellow fat Albert, ultra zug bug and beadhead hares ear and began prospecting the normal attractive spots. Based on past experience I focused much of my casting on deep slow moving pockets and shelf pools along the banks. Unfortunately the normal productive locations failed to be hot spots.
I fished for 1.5 hours with only a look or two, when I finally induced a small brown trout to grab the hares ear, as the trio of flies arced into a downstream swing away from a narrow slow moving trough along the far bank. Just prior to this dose of good fortune I swapped the fat Albert for a size 10 Chernobyl ant, although this probably had nothing to do with my success. I did experience a momentary hook up on the Chernobyl a few minutes before landing the small brown trout on the hares ear.
I was frustrated by the lack of action, and I pondered the possible reasons. In my mind I enumerated stream location, choice of lies, and cold water temperature from the low level snow melt as possible prohibitive factors. In an attempt to change one of the variables, I returned to the car and drove west until I reached mile marker 264.0 just beyond Tunnel 3. This area was in partial sunlight, but it contained quite a few ice shelves perhaps attributable to the narrow character of the canyon. In spite of the larger quantity of ice, I found some nice open water pools and resumed my quest for trout.
The fishing in this area was equally as slow as the water closer to Golden, and quite a few icebergs passed by as I worked upstream. Finally at 2:45 I lobbed a cast to a nice slow moving pool, and as I lifted to make another cast next to a boulder, a small brown trout attacked the hares ear. This landed fish was a bonus, as I was resigned to only one fish. I continued for another 15 minutes with renewed enthusiasm, but an attractive stretch of water did not produce, so I called it a day at 3PM and returned to Stapleton.
I arrived with high expectations after two fun days on the North Fork of the St. Vrain, but I learned that all streams are not equal, and each possesses unique characteristics. The abundance of ice shelves and small icebergs were clues that spring has not advanced in Clear Creek to the extent that it has in other front range drainages. Nonetheless I persisted and landed a couple small trout, and I enjoyed a mild late winter outing close to home.
Fish Landed: 2