Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM
Location: Mayhem Gulch
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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