Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM
Location: .5 mile before the second tunnel when traveling west through Clear Creek Canyon from Golden.
Fish Landed: 14
Although I had a great time fishing with my companion Danny on Sunday October 11, I was aching for more action than what I experienced on the Blue River. I relished my day on Clear Creek on Friday, so I decided to spend another day there on Monday. The tug is the drug, and I was in need of more drugs.
A front moved through Denver on Sunday night, and this caused a fifteen degree drop in the air temperature throughout the day. I was not anxious to begin fishing in the tight heavily shaded canyon early in the day, so I performed my normal exercise routine and finished a four mile run before I departed. I arrived at a pullout .5 mile before the second tunnel at 11:30 and elected to eat my lunch rather than lug it down the steep bank to the river.
It was a bit chilly in the shadows where the car was parked, so I decided to wear my fleece over my fishing shirt for added warmth. I expected to toss terrestrials most of the day, and my slow action Loomis five weight handles this task quite well, so that was the rod that I rigged. Once I was ready, I hiked back down the shoulder of route six until I was at the spot where I quit on Friday. I very carefully scrambled down the steep boulder field and began fishing back upstream on Clear Creek. The stream at this point was bathed in sunshine, and I quickly determined that the extra layer of fleece was excessive, but I did not wish to spend time wrapping it around my waist, so I remained toasty for the first couple hours.
On Sunday night I refurbished three Jake’s gulp beetles that lost their legs in the heat of action on Friday, and then I tied two new ones from scratch. These beetle versions were produced with peacock dubbed bodies, and I tied one on to the end of my 5X tippet and began to prospect the creek. I covered several decent holes in the first fifteen minutes without any success, but then a small brown zoomed to the surface next to a large rock and sucked in the beetle. This broke the ice, and I moved upstream at a steady pace and picked off eight more creek dwellers that craved Jake’s gulp beetle. It was fast paced action, and I loved every minute of it. If I remained stealthy and plopped the beetle in places where the current was slow enough to allow the trout to expend minimal energy, I generally received a favorable response.
By 1:30 I reached a point where shadows extended across the entire stream due to the extremely tight canyon walls. I attempted to continue my upstream movement and managed to catch a fish or two when I instinctively set the hook despite not seeing my fly. I knew however that the dim light would lead to frustration, so I climbed up the steep bank and walked back to the car. I decided to drive west and stop at the next section of the creek that was bathed in sunlight. This plan led me through two tunnels that were spaced fairly close together, and approximately a mile above the second tunnel I encountered a section of the stream on the left side of the highway that was mostly in sunshine.
The bank here was short and less steep, so I scrambled over the boulders and began to cast the gulp beetle along the edge and next to large rocks. The creek in this area was quite turbid, and the water displayed a light brown-olive shade. There was very little visibility, and I was quite disappointed with this turn of events. I carried on for ten minutes by prospecting the very edge of the creek, but it became apparent that the fish were unable to see my fly in the murky flow. I ended in a very nice slow moving deep pool, and when this failed to yield any signs of a fish, I decided to cut my losses and move back downstream. I theorized that some sort of excavation or road construction was causing the silt in the water since there was no sign of rain or precipitation in the western sky. I was now concerned that the muddy water was slowly moving down the creek, and that I would encounter it again in my next fishing spot to the east.
I returned to the Santa Fe and turned around and drove east to a nice shaded pullout on the south side of the highway a short distance above the first bridge west of Golden. Once again I scrambled down a rocky bank, and much to my amazement I discovered that the water remained just as clear as it was when I fished closer to the second tunnel after lunch. I remain baffled over how the creek cleared significantly in the two miles between the third tunnel and the first bridge.
I accepted my good fortune and began to work my way up the stream by plopping the beetle in all the likely locations. I am sure that the stretch of water I was now covering received much more pressure than that fished in the early afternoon, but the stream was bathed in sunshine, and I was able to follow the small orange indicator foam on my beetle.
I fished from 2:00 until 3:30 in this manner and upped my fish count to fourteen. The beetle continued to produce, but the takes were accompanied by many more refusals. I estimate that there was one refusal for every two fish that slurped the fake beetle. Also in the mid-afternoon time period the wind became a significant negative factor. I was having great difficulty punching casts into the headwind, and it became almost impossible to plop the beetle with slack to counteract the drag that was created by the wind.
Despite the negatives related to lighting and wind, I enjoyed another pleasant trip to Clear Creek. Fourteen fish in 3.5 hours represents a decent catch rate, and it is difficult to complain when only a 45 minute drive was required. Jake’s gulp beetle continues to be my hot fly in the fall of 2015.