Time: 12:30PM – 3:00PM
Location: Below first bridge after Tunnel 1 heading west
I was interested in a nearby destination to sandwich between a longer trip to the Arkansas River on Monday and a planned trip to Eleven Mile Canyon on Friday. I surveyed Clear Creek on my return trip from Eagle, CO on Saturday, so I was confident that the stream was clear. When I reviewed the DWR stream flows for Clear Creek at Lawson, it confirmed my expectations with the stream level in the 50 – 55 CFS range. This combination of information sealed my decision, and I made the relatively short forty-five minute drive to Clear Creek in the canyon west of Golden, CO.
I arrived at a pullout along the right shoulder just beyond the first bridge crossing by noon, and I proceeded to munch my small collection of snacks, before I prepared to fish. The air temperature was around sixty degrees, so I pulled on my light fleece, and then I assembled my Orvis Access four weight. I crossed the busy highway, and then sauntered down a path along the south side of the creek. Because it was spring, the dense vegetation, that normally blocks my path, was not a hindrance, and I was able to hike farther than any previous trips. I was about to cut down a bank to the river, when I stumbled across a small tan two-person tent. What was that all about? I was not certain if the tent was occupied, so I reversed my direction and skipped around a tall vertical rock wall, until I could find a reasonably manageable path to the creek.
Once I was perched on the edge of the small canyon stream, I tied a size ten Chernboyl ant to my line, and then I added a beadhead hares ear nymph and emerald caddis pupa. These flies remained on my line, until I switched tactics in the last thirty minutes. I flicked the dry/dropper configuration to all the likely spots along the left bank, and I was rewarded with fifteen landed trout between 12:30PM and 2:30PM. Of course the trout were very small, as they ranged between six and eight inches with perhaps one stretching to nine inches. Nevertheless I enjoyed myself immensely, as I moved at a fairly rapid clip and popped casts to the slower pockets and pools.
I ignored the entire stream except for the fifteen feet that bordered the left bank. All the landed trout except for one Chernobyl fan grabbed either the hares ear or emerald caddis, and I estimate that four favored the caddis and the remainder crushed the hares ear. This description makes it sound like the two and a half hours were a mindless easy exercise, but that was not the case. For every landed fish I observed a refusal to the Chernobyl ant, and of course a decent dose of temporary hook ups were part of the mix.
At 2:30PM I was perched on fifteen landed trout, so I decided to experiment with a single dry approach. The incidence of refusals accelerated between 2PM and 2:30PM, and this prompted me to convert to a single peacock hippy stomper. The foam attractor brought one trout to the surface to move the fish count needle to sixteen; however, it also prompted three refusals. The last visible trout that refused the stomper encouraged me to execute one more fly change. I nipped off the hippy stomper and replaced it with a size 14 olive-brown deer hair caddis. I tossed the small dry to the top of the small deep pool, and on the third drift the hackled deer hair fly disappeared. I assumed it was sucked under by the random currents, but I lifted the rod tip anyway, and I instantly felt the weight of an eight inch brook trout. The small fighter advanced my count to seventeen, and since it was three o’clock, I called it quits.
Thursday was a decent day on Clear Creek. Seventeen trout landed in 2.5 hours represents an above average catch rate. The trout were small, but that is the price paid for fishing within forty-five minutes of home. Surprisingly the seventeen netted fish included three rainbows and two brook trout in addition to the standard twelve browns. I do not recall catching brook trout in Clear Creek previously. The trout were where I expected them to be, and they were not exceedingly choosy about their menu choices. I suffered refusals, but as long as I kept moving, I found an abundant quantity of residents interested in my subsurface offerings.
Fish Landed: 17