Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Location: From bottom of Floyd Hill on the west side upstream a half mile.
Fish Landed: 11
Clear Creek 08/31/2015 Photo Album
After a weekend with no fishing I was once again anxious to cast some flies on Monday, the last day of August. Since the flows on Clear Creek were finally favorable after one of the longest run offs I can remember, I decided to give it a try. I also read a favorable report on the Front Range Anglers web site.
Since the drive is merely forty-five minutes, I did my normal morning workout and run before departing at 9:50, and I arrived at my chosen starting point by 10:30. I parked at the end of the Clear Creek bike path at the bottom of the west side of Floyd Hill. By the time I rigged my line and put on my waders and entered the water it was 11AM. The fisherman who filed the report on Front Range Anglers said he was receiving refusals on the larger attractor flies on his dry/dropper rig, and he suggested downsizing to compensate. I used this information to downsize from the beginning and tied on a size 16 elk hair caddis with a medium shade of olive body. The caddis did not have any hackle, but there did seem to be some snowshoe rabbit foot fur tied in as an underwing below the elk hair.
I did not generate any interest in the first two deep pockets, but as I moved away from the parking lot, the small caddis imitation began to produce. I landed five small brown trout in the first hour on the simple pattern. The tan elk hair wing was very visible, as it contrasted nicely with the clear water, and the body rode deep in the surface film, which apparently was what the trout were looking for. I even caught two fish by casting to the opposite bank and using a reach cast as learned from Jake Chutz of Montana Fly Company. This was a significant achievement given the very fast center current on trough-like Clear Creek.
After landing number five I foolishly snapped off the elk hair caddis and substituted a size 14 deer hair caddis with a gray body. This pattern generated a few refusals, but then yielded a sixth brown trout just before noon. Unfortunately I also broke off this fly on a tree, as I was reckless with my backcast, and this seemed like a good time to return to the car to eat lunch.
After lunch I checked my boat box and found one additional medium olive elk hair caddis, so I added it to the fly box that I now carry in my wader bib. When I returned to my pre-lunch exit point, I crossed the river to work the bank between interstate 70 and the stream. I always gravitate to water that is more difficult for the average fisherman to access, and the north side of Clear Creek in this area meets that definition. I immediately tied on the same elk hair caddis that was on fire between 11AM and noon, but alas it lost its magical qualities. I covered a fair amount of water propecting with the elk hair with no action, and then I once again broke it off on a brittle dead weed behind me, when I attempted to execute a reach cast and a downstream drift to some slow water along the far bank. Again I became careless when I redirected my casts across rather than upstream and did not check what was behind me.
Since I needed to tie on a new fly, I decided to experiment with the dry/dropper approach that produced so well for me on the South Platte River on Friday. One never knows what the fish are looking for if one does not try different flies and varied approaches. On to my line went a Chernobyl ant, beadhead ultra zug bug, and salvation nymph; but these flies were only moderately successful. I spent an hour prospecting with the dry/dropper combination and managed to land only two small brown trout; one on the ultra zug bug and one on the salvation nymph. I also generated a couple momentary hook ups, but I covered the greatest amount of water with these flies and had minimal return.
As the sky clouded up I decided to revert to dry flies in case the low light caused trout in Clear Creek to look for caddis. I tied on a size 14 stimulator with a body color close to the elk hair caddis, and then I added a twelve inch dropper and tied on a size 16 deer hair caddis with a light gray body. I rarely fish a double dry combination, but I tried it in the dim light so I could follow the large lead stimulator yet still track the more difficult to follow caddis.
This move proved to be moderately effective, as I landed three additional brown trout before quitting at 3PM. During this time I reached water that appeared more attractive as the creek channel narrowed, and this created more deep pockets along the bank. I suspect that I could have lured more trout to the surface, but my efforts were suddenly interrupted by a streak of lighting and then the loud clap of thunder only seconds afterward. The quick succession of light and sound told me that the lightning strike was nearby, so I hustled up the steep bank and walked back along the shoulder of interstate 70 while the wind picked up and the sky darkened. In order to reach the car I was forced to scramble down the steep rocky bank next to the highway and then cross the creek to the bike path on the other side. As I emerged on the bike path some more lightning brightened the sky and then sheets of rain began to pour from the clouds. I was prepared with my raincoat on, but the threat of another lightning strike kept me on edge until I reached the car.
Since the rain continued to pour from the sky in heavy quantities, I threw my rod, front pack, and backpack in the car and jumped in the driver’s seat clad in wet waders. I drove east on route six a bit to wait out the storm and hopefully sample different water, but when I turned right into the pullout below the gravel quarry, I could see that the creek was beginning to show color. It was a bit after 3PM, so I decided to call it a day and drove home in my waders.
I am grateful for landing eleven fish within an hours drive of my house, but Monday August 31 was also a frustrating outing. The fish were small and ridiculously easy to catch for the first hour, and then they became quite difficult in the afternoon. It just seems that small fish on a lightly pressured stream with flows finally at ideal levels should be more cooperative. But if fly fishing were too easy, I probably would not love it as much as I do.