Time: 11:45AM – 2:00PM
Location: Mile marker 266.5 and then upstream
Fish Landed: 2
After two nice days at the beginning of last week, the weather in Colorado finally turned toward an expected seasonal cold snap from Wednesday through Saturday. We avoided snow at our house in Stapleton, but the mountains and many towns along the Front Range experienced their first significant snowfall of the season. I used the adverse weather to augment my fly supply by tying ultra zug bugs and hares ear nymphs.
On Sunday and Monday however a break in the approaching winter pattern encouraged me to make yet another fishing trip. I preferred a trip to South Boulder Creek or the Big Thompson, but these two streams were trickling from their dams upstream at 11 CFS. I’m not sure what the water managers are up to, but these levels are quite low. Clear Creek continued to register flows of 30 CFS, so I chose to make yet another trip to Clear Creek Canyon.
A high in the low sixties in Denver translates to air temperatures in the low fifties in the canyon, so I took my time getting ready to depart on Monday morning. By 10:30AM, however, I judged that the weather would be tolerable, so I departed Stapleton and made the short thirty minute drive to mile marker 266.5 in Clear Creek Canyon. I prepared to fish by assembling my Orvis Access four weight, and then I ate my lunch because I planned to scramble down the steep bank to fish and did not wish to climb back for lunch and then descend a second time.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-p-ND6Acb-aQ/VkFh12E7BcI/AAAAAAAA5uQ/8nK7D2lds-Y/s144-c-o/PB090008.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/11092015ClearCreek#6215356538425116098″ caption=”Starting Point. Mostly Clear.” type=”image” alt=”PB090008.JPG” ]
By 11:45 I finished my lunch and found a relatively gradual path from the rim of the highway to the floor of the canyon. I was pleased to discover that the water was ninety percent clear, but still tinged with some slight sedimentation presumably from the trail construction a few miles upstream. The clarity was much improved compared to my visit on the previous Monday.
I began fishing with a Jake’s gulp beetle, but this choice failed to arouse any interest in the first ten minutes, so I made a change. I pledged to not dwell on an unproductive fly excessively since my window of prime fishing time was only 2.5 hours. I removed the beetle and knotted a parachute hopper to my line and then added an ultra zug bug on a two foot dropper. I moved upstream quickly prospecting likely pockets with no reaction from the trout to my twin offering until I reached an area where the most attractive water was along the north bank. I waded to the middle of the river to position myself to cast to a very juicy deep pool that bordered the far bank.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0jLgUco1Ies/VkFh2Dc1jAI/AAAAAAAA5t0/daDbkA-BFs4/s144-c-o/PB090009.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/11092015ClearCreek#6215356542015081474″ caption=”A Very Nice Clear Creek Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PB090009.JPG” ]
The lower section of this bank pocket did not produce, but when I flicked the tandem into the short top pocket, the hopper darted sideways, and this provoked a solid hook set. I was pleased to see a fine brown trout thrashing on my line, as it tried to eject the ultra zug bug from its lip. When I netted my catch, I was pleased to note that it was eleven or twelve inches and one of the nicer brown trout that I ever extracted from Clear Creek.
I moved onward and worked my way up the right bank, as I now suspected that it received less pressure and might be more productive in the challenging late season conditions. I cast to three or four promising deep runs with no success before I approached a spot that contained some very slow moving water. This section failed to yield any fish, but right above it a deep run angled at a ninety degree angle from the stream toward the north bank. I placed a few casts in the slow water along the side of the current, and then dropped a cast at the top of the small run. As I lifted to recast after a short drift, I felt weight and set the hook and landed a second brown trout that was slightly smaller than my first catch.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tiMb2_J98E4/VkFh3Cpx5dI/AAAAAAAA5t8/NhjAOWVV7Qc/s144-c-o/PB090011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/11092015ClearCreek#6215356558980802002″ caption=”A Second Brown” type=”image” alt=”PB090011.JPG” ]
I now theorized that the best spots were the very slow moving pools and pockets. My feet were starting to feel like stumps due to the very cold water, so I conjectured that the snow from the previous week melted and caused the water temperature to drop. The cold water caused a reduction in the metabolism of the fish, and in order to save energy they migrated to the parts of the creek that contained less current to battle.
This was a great theory, but I was never able to confirm it, as I continued working my way upstream, but I never landed another fish before I decided to convert to a streamer at 1:30. In reality I never encountered any water that was slow moving and along the bank, so perhaps my thought process was accurate, and I never found the proper conditions to confirm.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JI4UompnFcM/VkFh3n18c4I/AAAAAAAA5uE/7iBqKtpjW6s/s144-c-o/PB090012.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/11092015ClearCreek#6215356568963937154″ caption=”A Short Section in Sunshine” type=”image” alt=”PB090012.JPG” ]
At any rate I was feeling quite chilled and bored with the lack of hook ups, so I decided to devote the final thirty minutes to stripping a streamer. I switched to my sink tip line and tied a conehead cream colored sculpzilla-style streamer to my line and began working the deep pools and pockets. The bait imitation looked great as it zigged and zagged through the deep areas, but I never attracted even a follow to my fake sculpin. At two o’clock I called it quits and scrambled up the steep bank to the road.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TJ6Fr212XQs/VkFh4qo-rkI/AAAAAAAA5uM/fM88zwnUzgc/s144-c-o/PB090014.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/11092015ClearCreek#6215356586894732866″ caption=”Close Up” type=”image” alt=”PB090014.JPG” ]
It was a tough 2.5 hours of fishing, and I felt quite fortunate to land two decent fish. I am hopeful that the early snow melt will pass, and that some additional warm days will allow me to increase the fish counter before the end of 2015. I am also considering exploring tailwaters, since they will not be affected directly by early season runoff.