Clear Creek – 03/25/2012

Time: 11:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Whitewater Park above Lawson for first two hours then HIdden Valley exit of I70 upstream just beyond Central City Parkway bridge

Fish Landed: 6

Clear Creek 03/25/2012 Photo Album

After attending Cody Scott’s informative presentation on fishing Clear Creek on St. Patrick’s Day at the Blue Quill Angler I was anxious to apply some of my new found knowledge. Unfortunately I picked up a nasty head cold beginning on Tuesday, and the congestion was invading all parts of my head by Sunday. But it was another beautiful unseasonably warm early spring day, and I’d spent Saturday building a raised bed next to the patio, so I decided to make a short trip to Clear Creek.

One of the stretches Cody mentioned was Clear Creek west of the Whitewater Park by Lawson. He assisted in electroshocking Clear Creek in 2011, and discovered that the fish density was greatest in this area. I exited I70 at Lawson and followed the frontage road underneath the highway and saw an immediate pullout on the left. I wasn’t certain this was the correct place but decided to give it a try. I initially rigged up with a Chernobyl ant and trailed a chartreuse copper john and olive midge larva. I worked my way upstream through some attractive water and noticed one small brown inspect the Chernobyl. But that was the extent of action and after a half hour of unproductive prospecting, I encountered a young man who had waded into the stream fifty yards above me. Since I was between private homes, I didn’t want to create an encounter, so I decided to retreat back to the car and search for the whitewater park.

I turned left off the frontage road and drove a short distance until I saw a sign by a parking lot denoting Whitewater Park. I found a parking spot and grabbed my rod and noticed three or four fishermen already working the water in this area. The stream had been modified in this stretch to a series of perhaps twenty pools. Each pool had a short waterfall or riffle at the top, then a run that fanned out into a nice deep pool. I hiked the path along the south bank and circled above the last fishermen already in the water and began fishing near the western end of Whitewater Park with perhaps five or six pool sections. I continued fishing the dry/dropper combination but experienced no action, so I decided to switch to an indicator with a weighted rubber leg stonefly nymph and reattached the olive midge larva.

Whitewater Park on Clear Creek

I worked these flies through the deep pools and thoroughly drifted the seams along the runs at the top of each pool. I wasn’t having any success and didn’t even see fish. Perhaps the fishing would improve beyond the stream improvement stretch? I went a bit beyond the last manmade pool, but continued to be thwarted in my efforts to catch a single fish. I was also observing an increasing quantity of snow and ice due to the narrow nature of the creek bed with steep banks on both sides. It was now approaching 2PM, and I was getting hungry so I decided to retreat to the parking lot.

I grabbed my lunch bag and found a nice large smooth rock to rest on while I ate my lunch and observed the water. Another fisherman was prospecting the head of a pool across from the parking lot with a spinning rod, but didn’t seem to be having any success. I decided to drive further downstream after lunch to water that was perhaps warmer and more open to the sun.

I hopped back on I70 and drove beyond Idaho Springs to the Hidden Valley exit where I’d caught my last two fish of 2011. I grabbed my rod and descended the bank next to where I parked and decided to test the wide riffle stretch down the bank from the car and then work my way upstream underneath I70. By now I’d clipped off the stonefly, added a split shot and attached a beadhead hares ear and beadhead RS2. I cast across the middle section of the riffles and let my flies swing at the end of the drift and felt a tug and miraculously landed my first small brown of the day. At least I wasn’t going to get skunked.

First Brown Landed

I moved up to the top of the pool, but by now some dark gray clouds moved in and blocked the sun, and I was feeling quite chilly in my fishing shirt, so I reeled up my line and climbed back up the bank to the car to add a fleece layer. When I returned to the stream I began lower in the run and fairly quickly I hooked a second small brown on the RS2 as it began to swing at the tail of the drift. I also noticed a sporadic rise or two along the far bank. Perhaps the cloud cover had initiated a BWO hatch?

I moved upstream to an area under the I70 eastbound ramp and landed two more small browns in some riffles and pockets. The fish seemed to be taking the fly just as it began  to swing. One of the ramp fish took the beadhead hares ear and the other grabbed the RS2. The next stretch of water was fairly unattractive so I quickly moved to the north side of I70 and worked up around the curve behind the store that sells propane. I covered quite a bit of water with no success and then encountered another fisherman walking back along the south bank presumably to his car. We chatted a bit, and he said he’d landed a few fish on some sort of tiny tinsel fly.

Largest Fish of the Day

In a nice run just before the Central City Parkway bridge I landed perhaps my largest fish of the day, still only perhaps 10 inches, on the beadhead hares ear. I continued upstream through a narrow channelized stretch where the DOT was doing some sort of excavation. Just above this there was a long deep pool right under I70. I slowly worked my way to a position on a large flat submerged rock and observed the water. Suddenly I spotted a dimple eight feet across from me. I still had my nymphs and indicator on, so decided to switch to a dry fly. It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was considering quitting, so why not end the day by casting some dries?

I tied on a CDC BWO and cast above where I’d seen the rise. It was difficult to follow the tiny gray fluff, but I believe I noticed a refusal to my fly. But as I made a couple more casts to the same general area, I observed several rises several feet out from the cement wall under the bridge and across from me. I decided to shoot a cast to that general area even though I certainly couldn’t follow my fly from that distance in the shadows of the bridge. But as I watched I saw a fish sip something on the surface so set the hook and amazingly hooked a brown. This brown was probably equal in size the the previous fish, and I quickly played it to the net.

I meticulously dried the CDC wing and then attempted to catch the fish that had resumed rising sporadically across from me. I wasn’t seeing any BWO’s in the air, but did notice four or five midges buzzing about. Another fish rose across and below me near the tail of the long pool so I fired some long casts down and across, but this didn’t result in any hookups. Finally I gave up on the deep pool and hiked under the I70 bridge and crossed to the opposite bank where I climbed back up to the frontage road and returned to the car. The water on the other side of the bridge looked quite attractive, and I made a mental note to give it a try on a future trip.

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