Monthly Archives: August 2022

Lake Creek – 08/31/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: .5 mile up trail

Lake Creek 08/31/2022 Photo Album

After three previous visits to this high country creek, I harbored high expectations for a stellar day of fly fishing on the last day of August. The weather was a bit warmer than desired, as I began my short hike at 10:00AM with the dashboard thermometer registering in the mid-sixties. By the time I quit in the late afternoon, it was probably around eighty degrees. The flows were seasonally low, but as expected for late summer.


I began my backcountry adventure with my Orvis Access four weight, and I tied on an olive body hippie stomper and trailed a beadhead hares ear, but the early going was disappointing, as numerous refusals to the hippie stomper ruled my progression upstream. A few fish below six inches managed to get their tiny mouths around the size 14 stomper, but disappointment ruled the first twenty minutes. All the action was on top, and the nymph was irrelevant, so I swapped the dropper for a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. I finally kick started the fish counter with an eleven inch brown trout and a couple barely six inch browns on the caddis, but prime spots were not producing as expected. This was not the creek I remembered from previous visits.

Black and Brown

I began a period of experimentation, which included a brief marriage to a size 10 classic Chernobyl ant. The Chernobyl was treated as inert flotsam, so I switched to a size 14 parachute green drake. Initially the drake duped a few eager small browns, but then it also reached a state of ineffectiveness. I gazed inside my fly box and settled on a size 14 yellow stimulator. Surely this small creek was the home to yellow sallies and golden stoneflies. To some degree the move paid off, and I augmented the count to nine by 11:45AM, when I grabbed a mossy seat on a rock and munched my lunch.



Although I managed nine trout during my morning session, the size of the fish was disappointing, with most in the six to nine inch range. The most productive water types were marginal small pockets and short riffles; the types of locales, where one would expect smaller fish. The deep, prime holes were inexplicably not revealing larger trout.

Just before lunch I snapped off the yellow stimulator on a branch during a backcast, so I replaced it with an olive size 14 stimulator. This fly continued my record of spotty success, and I eventually added a size 14 olive deer hair caddis on a one foot dropper. The double dries enabled me to build the fish count to twelve, but I sensed that I was missing out on trout in attractive pools.

Soft Re-entry

I decided to resort to my bread and butter approach…a dry/dropper with two subsurface flies. I knew I was risking snags and tangles, but I was desperate for more consistent action. After a brief pause for reconfiguration, my line featured an olive hippie stomper, salvation nymph, and a black sunk ant. Finally the stream residents began to respond, and before I quit at 3:30PM, the fish count blossomed to twenty-five. The size of the trout improved with a thirteen inch brown in the mix for the best of the day award, and a few eleven and twelve inch fighters also visited my net.

Does Not Get Any Better

All was not perfect, however, as the three fly arrangement led to an abundant quantity of nasty tangles. The main cause of this frustration was a small fish eating the leading stomper and then twisting the two trailers in a ridiculous pattern of tight loops. Needless to say, this fisherman was not happy with the adverse circumstances.

Small Stream Prize

Wednesday evolved into a decent day numbers wise, but size of fish was a negative compared to earlier trips to this high country jewel. It did seem that somewhat larger fish appeared, as I moved farther away from my parking space, so my next venture will likely entail a longer hike. The conventional wisdom of getting away from a parking lot or campground seems to apply. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day in the Rocky Mountains, and for that I am thankful.

Fish Landed: 25

St. Vrain Creek – 08/26/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Upstream from Lyons

St. Vrain Creek 08/26/2022 Photo Album

Jane and I along with some pickleball friends reserved campsites near the St. Vrain from August 14 through August 17. Unfortunately a family emergency caused us to cancel our reservation, and it also thwarted my plans to fish the St. Vrain. Today, however, August 25 I returned to the St. Vrain for a day of fly fishing.

The temperature was sixty degrees, as I pulled into the parking lot and prepared to fish. I assembled my Orvis Access four weight for the small stream with tight vegetation, and I hiked a decent distance to create a buffer from the parking lot angling crowd. When I approached the creek, I was pleased with the perfect clarity, and the flows seemed a bit higher than normal for late August. I was actually pleased with this circumstance, since the conditions dictated less stealth than required at lower levels.

Ready to Start

I began my day with a peacock hippie stomper fished solo, but after ten minutes with only refusals, I swapped the stomper for a size 16 olive body deer hair caddis. The refusals transitioned into takes, and I quickly built the fish count to five before a fairly lengthy lull suggested another change in flies. The small caddis was difficult to track, especially in faster runs and in riffled pockets, so I made a radical change to a classic size 10 Chernobyl ant. The Chernobyl produced several swirls and a temporary hook up, but it was ignored in some prime pools, so I reverted to the hippie stomper with a beadhead hares ear dropper. My evaluation of the dry/dropper was cut short, when I set the hook on an imaginary fish and catapulted the two flies into a live evergreen that was out of reach. Direct pressure resulted in the loss of both flies, and I used the pause to settle on a mossy bank to consume my lunch.

Gold Speckled Brook Trout

Trout Lair

After lunch I replaced the dry/dropper with a Jake’s gulp beetle, since the fish showed interest in the Chernobyl, which I consider a large beetle. I hoped that a downsizing strategy would incite the resident fish to eat, but it did not, and I quickly converted once again to a yellow stimulator. The yellow stimulator accounted for several fish, and the fish count blossomed to double digits. The sixty degree air temperature by now had moved up moderately to the mid-sixties, but I was chilled from the perspiration from my inbound hike, so I pulled on my raincoat for additional warmth. This move proved to be a winner, as several waves of heavy cloud cover moved over the stream during the remainder of my time fly fishing. In fact, I spent the last hour fishing in the rain.

Nice Little Pool

Sought After Cutthroat

As was the case with the previous flies, the stimulator wore out its welcome, and I paused to assess my choices. I decided to once again prioritize visibility, and I returned to the peacock hippie stomper, and during this installment, I added a black sunk ant on a 1.5 foot dropper. I wanted the ant to be near the surface, since most of the feeding seemed to be in the top layer of water. I finally found a consistent producer, and I maintained the stomper/ant dropper combination for the remainder of the afternoon and built the fish count to thirty-three. Once I settled on the productive combination, I had a blast. I moved relatively quickly and focused on the water types that generated the best results. Long riffles over coble bottom with two feet of depth or greater were sure bets. Soft shelf pools and deep plunge pools with slow moving current were also attractive options. Depth and cover were the two main qualities that defined consistent positive results on the high country stream on Friday.

On Display

Maybe Best of the Day

Wide Body for This Creek

What was I catching? My largest fish were cutthroats, and I landed six absolutely gorgeous slash jawed trout during my four hours. The cutthroats were not as populous, but they definitely guarded the prime locations. The rest of the fish that dwelled in my net were brook trout, and they were much more aggressive feeders and disbursed throughout the system, but the largest brookie measured eleven inches, and most fell within the six to eight inch range. The brook trout made up for their lack of size with their color schemes, as I released many with bright orange bellies.

Several Fish Emerged from This Long Slow-Moving Pool

Another Prime Cutthroat Spot

Friday was a fun day. I love prospecting high country streams in spite of the tendency for the fish to be on the small side. The surprise of a surface smack by a wild trout never grows old, and the possibility of encountering a copper hued speckled cutty with bright red cheeks and a slash under the jaw is hard to resist.

Fish Landed: 33

Deep Colors

Brook Trout Magnificence


Avalanche Creek – 08/22/2022

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Below campground

Avalanche Creek 08/22/2022 Photo Album

While staying in Carbondale with my daughter, Amy, I visited the Crystal River Fly Shop, and I purchased a few items, before I pumped the salesmen in the store about small high elevation streams in the Roaring Fork Valley. They suggested quite a few options to explore, but the one that caught my immediate attention was Avalanche Creek. This stream is a tributary of the Crystal River and only a thirty minute drive from Amy’s house.

On Monday morning Jane, Amy and I drove to Aspen Highlands and rented e-bikes, which we utilized to ascend the Maroon Creek Road to the Maroon Bells. We snapped a decent quantity of photos and completed the Maroon Lake Loop Trail, before we set the bikes on eco and cruised back to Aspen Highlands. The entire experience was breathtaking. I am still trying to figure out how to access Maroon Creek for some fly fishing.

At any rate, after our return to Carbondale, I ate a quick lunch and launched an exploratory expedition to Avalanche Creek. I was concerned about discoloration from recent rains, as the Crystal River exhibited a reddish-cream color, but I was willing to invest a short drive and a few hours for research and development.

The weather was pleasant with temperatures in the seventies and partly cloudy skies. As I drove along Avalanche Creek, I was unable to catch a glimpse of the creek; and, thus, the water clarity, until I bounced over the rough dirt road for a mile or two. Finally I obtained a look and concluded clarity was not an issue. Since it was my first visit, I had no basis for comparison, but the flows seemed quite strong for late August.

Near the Start

I parked in a small pullout along the dirt road and rigged my Orvis Access four weight and then navigated my way down a sparse path to the creek, where I had to slide over a steep five foot embankment. For the next two hours I battled the steep gradient and overhanging canopy to land three trout; one rainbow and two brook trout. None of the trout exceeded eight inches. Two hours of fly fishing in these conditions equated to four hours in a more forgiving riparian environment.

One of Three

Early in my efforts I tested a classic Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear, and the rainbow nabbed the hares ear in a small depression. This combination fell out of favor, and I switched to a tan size 8 pool toy hopper trailing the hares ear and a salvation nymph, but the tight overhead vegetation combined with the dropper nymphs was unmanageable and led to constant snags and tangles. I finished the day with a medium olive hippie stomper and a gray size 14 stimulator in a double dry fly configuration, and the two brook trout slurped the stimulator. I also experienced quite a few momentary hookups with what were likely small brookies, but two more sizeable catches managed to escape my hook after very brief connections.

High Gradient and Overhead Canopy

Would I return to Avalanche Creek? Possibly. If I could locate a stretch with a more gradual gradient, and if flows were reduced, I could anticipate more success. Until I identify more favorable conditions, I will move Avalanche Creek down my priority list, while I continued to explore more options.

Fish Landed: 3

Frying Pan River – 08/19/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: East of Basalt

Frying Pan River 08/19/2022 Photo Album

After a series of storms, the stream and river levels in the Roaring Fork Valley elevated significantly, but by Friday I was ready to visit the Frying Pan River. The upper river dropped from 130 cfs to 79 cfs over a two day period, and that convinced me to make the drive from my daughter’s condo in Carbondale, CO. The dashboard displayed a temperature of 60 degrees, when I arrived at my chosen pullout, and as the day progressed, the air warmed into the upper 60’s. Dark clouds and rain, however, dominated the sky in the early afternoon, and this forced the temperature to drop back to the low 60’s  At lunch I pulled out my raincoat, and I wore it until I ended my fishing adventure at 2PM. The raincoat protected me from the rain and kept me warm in the early afternoon.

Nice Pockets

As I began my fly fishing venture, I crossed to the north side of the river and configured my line with a tan size 8 pool toy hopper, a beadhead hares ear nymph, and a beadhead salvation nymph, while casting my new Sage R8 four weight. I chose the Sage R8 because the river level was higher than normal.

Salvation Nymph Fancier

By the time I broke for lunch at noon, eleven fish visited my net. Nearly all were rainbow trout, and a third of my catch smacked the hopper, another third nabbed the hares ear, and the remainder grabbed the salvation. The rainbows were predominantly spunky trout in the ten to eleven inch range. I managed to lift five silver-sided bows from one particularly productive deep run along the south bank.

Deep Slots Produced

After lunch I continued with the same approach until just before 2PM, and I built the fish count to twenty-four. The early afternoon results were very similar to the morning with a few brown trout sprinkled in including a gorgeous thirteen incher. The success rate on the hares ear faded a bit, and the salvation compensated. The only negative was an increase in the number of temporary hook ups on the pool toy.

Great Fish for These Waters

Friday was a fun day after a week away from fly fishing. Twenty-four trout in three hours of fishing was appreciated. A thirteen inch rainbow and brown trout topped the tally with most of the landed trout in the nine to eleven inch range. Another trip to the Frying Pan would be a welcome addition to the 2022 season.

Fish Landed: 24

South Boulder Creek – 08/12/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/12/2022 Photo Album

After a banner day on South Boulder Creek on 08/03/2022, I was aching to return. I checked the flows upon our return from camping early in the week, and the releases dropped the outflow from 125 CFS to 105 CFS. I regard 80 CFS as perfect, but 105 CFS is quite favorable.

Friday was another hot day in Colorado, and the air temperature in South Boulder Creek Canyon probably peaked around 80 degrees. The flows, however, from the bottom of Gross Reservoir were cold and clear, and I was quite excited for another day on the small tailwater close to Denver. I elected to use my Orvis Access four weight since the flows were lower, and the shorter lighter rod was less taxing on my casting arm.

A New Beginning

I hiked to my chosen starting point and knotted a size 14 poly wing parachute green drake to my line. I considered other offerings in the early going, but I looked forward to fishing green drakes, so why not test the waters at the start? The choice was prescient, and I racked up thirteen landed trout in the morning, before I broke for lunch at noon. The initial fly endured for ten trout, and then the hackle was severed by hungry teeth, and I switched to a size 14 green drake user friendly. The foam backed green drake imitation produced a couple trout, and then it became a refusal machine, so I switched to a size 12 parachute green drake with a turkey flat wing. The turkey flat version duped one trout, and then a wave of refusals ensued. Along the way I found a Wolf Moon landing net lodged on a cluster of logs, and I stuffed it in my backpack with the handle in the bottom of the pocket. The net frame was cracked, but the bag was in excellent shape, so I decided I could salvage that part for future use. Recall that my Wolf Moon landing net floated away from me on a recent visit to Clear Creek, so the fishing gods provided me with compensation.

First Poly Wing Parachute Green Drake

Dense Spots

Brown Trout Smacked My Fly Near the Stick Jumble

After lunch I decided to revert to the poly wing parachute that yielded ten trout in the morning, and this move proved to be a winner. The fish count rocketed from thirteen at lunch to fifty-two on the day. Whew! The action was torrid between 12:15PM, when I finished lunch, and 2:00PM, when I notched number forty. The pace slowed measurably from 2:00PM until 3:00PM, but I did manage to sag my net seven additional times to reach forty-seven. During this time a second poly wing parachute joined its cousin in the retired fly patch, as the hackle climbed up the wing post. The third poly wing remained on my line, until I returned to my car at the end of the day.

Glistening Brown Trout

Of course, the largest fish on the day only extended the tape measure to twelve to thirteen inches, and I landed around eight in this dimension range. The trout density was amazing, and a first cast to prime water nearly always elicited a strike. I spotted four or five natural green drakes in the 12:30PM to 1:30PM window, so the hatch was not very dense, but the South Boulder Creek trout never miss a shot at a large meal such as the western green drake.


Prime Spot

During my hike back to the parking lot I stopped and cherry picked a few prime pools and supplemented the fish count with an additional five to reach fifty-two. Hopefully a few more encounters with green drake madness will greet my calendar in 2022 on South Boulder Creek. My fingers are crossed.

Fish Landed: 52

Elk River – 08/09/2022

Time: 9:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: North of Steamboat Springs

Elk River 08/09/2022 Photo Album

True to my vow to fish backcountry trout streams until the air temperatures dropped to more favorable levels, I visited the Elk River in Routt National Forest on August 9, 2022. Jane and I reserved a campground in the area, and I was perfectly positioned for a day of fly fishing. With the high temperature expected to touch the eighty degree mark, and the flows at seasonal lows, I decided to launch my fly fishing adventure early. This commitment to morning fishing placed me on the stream by 9:30AM.

Big Hole

I rigged my Orvis Access four weight and tied a size 14 purple haze to my line and began tossing the attractor dry fly to every likely fish holding spot. The haze yielded one eight inch cutthroat in the early going, but then I covered a decent amount of stream in the next fifteen minutes with no additional interest from the assumed resident fish. I plotted a change of course, and I knotted a peacock body hippie stomper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear on a 2.5 foot dropper.

Not Expecting Brown Trout

Ah, Cutthroats I Expected

Success. The dry/dropper approach began to click, and I built the fish count to ten, before I broke for lunch at 11:45AM. The morning fish tally included brown trout and cutthroat trout. I expected cutthroats, and I was more than pleased to land some gorgeous wild trout, but the brown trout were a bit of a surprise. During my last visit to the Elk River, I landed a handful of browns, but they were all quite small and barely exceeded my six inch cut off for counting. One of the browns that thrashed in my net on August 9 was a splendid fifteen inch specimen, and several browns in the twelve and thirteen inch range joined the mix. The hares ear nymph accounted for the bulk of the trout, with a couple crushing the hippie stomper as well. Needless to say, I was thrilled with my results during the morning session.

Monster for This Body of Water


After lunch I pulled out my stream thermometer and submerged it in a deep run for two minutes. When I extracted it, I was pleased to note that it registered 58 degrees, so I continued my upstream progression. I concluded that it was safe to fish for another couple hours, and that is exactly what I did. I remained with the stomper/dropper combination, and it continued to perform well in the early going. Once again the hares ear was the main fish taker, but the ratio shifted a bit toward the surface fly, and as was the case in the morning, nice cutthroat trout in the eleven to thirteen inch range dominated the net. In nearly every prime pool with significant depth, I could rely on a colorful cutty to rise and slowly engulf the hippie stomper, or in some cases nab the hares ear near the tail of the pool.

Pink Belly

Oversized Tail

After an hour or so of this enjoyment, I landed a few brook trout. The hares ear’s effectiveness waned, and the hippie stomper was refused. This pattern indicated to me that the trout were switching to surface feeding, so I shifted to a double dry approach. I stuck with the hippie stomper as the front fly and trailed a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. The stomper continued to demonstrate its effectiveness, albeit with a fair number of refusals, but the caddis was ignored. Once again I assessed the offerings, and this time I replaced the caddis with a size 14 yellow stimulator. Surely the yellow sally that is so pervasive in Colorado was a food source on this stream.

Lavender Belly

Scrumptious Pool

The double dry clicked for awhile, and I elevated the fish count to twenty-five, before I quit at 2:30PM. The action on the double dry was fair, but not as effective as the dry/dropper earlier in the day. Some of this may have resulted from the warmer air temperatures, and some may be attributable to fewer quality pools. The success rate between the hippie stomper and stimulator was roughly equal.

Brown Trout Continue to Appear

At 2:30PM I reached a convenient exit point, the catch rate slowed to a snail’s pace, and I was concerned about dangerous water temperatures; so I called it quits and returned to the trailhead. What a rewarding day on the Elk River. I landed twenty-five trout including magnificent and brightly colored cutthroats and aggressive brown trout. The fish count also included four brook trout, and one of them was a small stream monster in the twelve to thirteen inch range. Hopefully I will have an opportunity to return to the Elk River again next year.

Fish Landed: 25

Beast of a Brook Trout a Big Surprise

Brook Trout Was in Front of the Boulder Along the Bank



South Boulder Creek – 08/03/2022

Time: 10:15AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/03/2022 Photo Album

During my last trip to South Boulder Creek on 07/29/2022 I broke my Sage four weight fly rod at 1:30PM, just as I sensed that the fishing was about to explode. On Saturday I made the trip from my home in Denver to Charlie’s Fly Box with the intention of buying a relatively inexpensive backup four weight fly rod to serve my needs for the remainder of the summer, while my old dependable Sage LL got repaired. On Wednesday, August 3, 2022 I found myself once again perched along South Boulder Creek, but in this case I was gripping a brand new Sage nine foot, four weight R8 rod. Instead of a cheap temporary replacement rod, I lightened my wallet to procure the latest top of the line Sage rod. Dave of Charlie’s Fly Box was a good salesman.

My New Fly Rod

New Rod Ready for a Day of Fly Fishing

I arrived at the kayak parking lot by 9:00AM, and a quick check revealed three additional vehicles in the lot. A guide and two customers were gathered behind one of the cars, so I hustled to beat them to the trail. As I was pulling on my waders and gathering my gear after assembling my new Sage R8, a truck pulled into the parking lot next to the guide group. I did not pay much attention, but within five minutes a young man clad in a navy blue uniform approached and asked to inspect my license. My license was in my backpack, and I had not yet pulled it on, so I removed it from the middle pocket and showed it to the Boulder County wildlife officer. Everything checked out, and I began my descent of the steep trail to the creek shortly thereafter.

Pocket Water Deluxe

After hiking a moderate distance I positioned myself along the edge of South Boulder Creek and pondered my fly choices. I was anxiously anticipating a green drake hatch, so why not go directly to a drake imitation? I asked myself this question and made the commitment. I tied a solitary size 14 parachute green drake to my line, and in short order I was netting rainbow and brown trout from the creek. The flows were 142 CFS when I arrived, but the water managers reduced the output from the dam to 125 CFS, while I was fishing. The air temperature was in the low seventies as I began, and probably peaked in the upper seventies by the middle of the afternoon.

Look at Those Ink Spots

My first seven trout were mostly browns with a couple rainbows in the mix, and all inhaled the parachute green drake. Apparently my imitation was close to what the resident trout were looking for, because the fish were sucking it in confidently. Number seven was an eight inch rainbow, and hook removal required the use of my hemostats, and I severely damaged the fly during the process. I replaced the productive parachute fly with another, but it seemed larger, and the trout were much more tentative as exemplified by a significant increase in the number of refusals. I managed to add two brown trout to the fish count, but then I switched once again.

Unusual Red Fin

In this instance I returned the parachute green drake to my fly box and replaced it with a size 14 user friendly. The Grillos user friendly contains two layers of thin foam, and I was hoping for improved floatation. The fly remained on the surface in fine fashion, and by the time I grabbed a boulder for lunch, the fish count had jumped to fourteen. Unfortunately the last fish before lunch severed the hackle on the user friendly, and I made a mental note to swap it for a fresh and undamaged fly after lunch.

A Brown Took My Fly Next to the Rock

I kept my word, but for some reason I abandoned the user friendly and tested a Harrop hair wing green drake size 14. The hair wing paid immediate dividends on a nice bankside pocket, but then it faltered and did no justify the extra effort required to track it in the swirling currents. I was interested to see how the large bulky fan wing of a comparadun played with the resident trout, and I assumed the large wing would be easier to track. My hunch was correct, and one small brown trout launched toward the comparadun and met my net in a brief amount of time. The comparadun then became a high maintenance fly, as the waterlogged abdomen and thorax required constant drying and frequent application of floatant.

So Vivid

View from Lunch

Once again I considered a change, and this time I reverted to the parachute style fly. During the winter I tied some parachute green drakes with moose mane tails and poly wings. Previously I used turkey flats for wings, but I shifted to the poly wing to create the illusion of more bulk similar to the naturals, as they fluttered and attempted to become airborne from the surface of the stream. The poly wing parachute drake was an overwhelming winner, and I stuck with it for the remainder of my time on the water, as I built the fish count to forty-eight. Yes, you read that correctly. I had a blast tossing the large single dry fly with my new Sage rod to all the likely fish holding locations, and in many cases the trout responded by attacking the size 14 fly. I spotted my first natural western green drake at 12:35PM, and their sporadic emergence continued until 3:00PM, when I reached my intended exit point. The catch rate slowed somewhat over the last hour, but how could the torrid pace continue?

Very Clear Pool

Top Shelf

On my return hike I stopped at several of my favorite hotspots, and I picked up three more drake eaters to move the count to forty-eight. I worked diligently to attain a fifty fish day, but during the last hour the interest in drakes seemed to wane, and in my last stand, I experienced only refusals. I was weary and faced more hiking, so I abandoned the goal of fifty and marched back to the parking lot.

Glistening Brown Trout

Another Trout Lair

On July 29 I sensed that I was on the cusp of a spectacular day, and August 3 pretty much confirmed that my intuition was correct. Of course, the forty-eight trout were on the small side, but I estimate that at least ten stretched to the twelve to thirteen inch range. All the trout sported vivid and bright colors, and I thoroughly enjoyed my day. The weather was perfect, the flows were improved,  and I never encountered a competing angler. My new fly rod performed admirably, and I particularly liked the way it cast and the flex that allowed me to confidently control the larger fish. I will reserve further judgement, until I attempt to land a sixteen inch bruiser on the four weight outfit. I love the green drake hatch, and the fish do as well, as all my catches consumed a green drake imitation.

Fish Landed: 48

Clear Creek – 08/02/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: West of Idaho Springs

Clear Creek 08/02/2022 Photo Album

The title of this blog report is unfinished business. After my net drifted away from me on Monday, I spent forty-five minutes wading downstream in search of the escaped landing device. I never found it, so I quit and returned to Denver. I immediately made the short trip to Bass Pro Shop at Northfield, and I purchased a cheap $42 wooden landing net. I expected to replace the bag with one with small holes, but I was surprised to discover that the $42 net contained the desired small hole rubber mesh, thus saving me the job of removing and attaching a different net bag. I stopped fishing at 1:30PM on Monday, and I sensed that the action was escalating, and that is why Tuesday’s session is labeled unfinished business.

I departed Denver and arrived at my chosen destination by 10:00AM. Unlike Monday, however, four or five vehicles were spaced along the road that borders Clear Creek, so I was forced to fly fish a section that was not my preferred stretch. I once again rigged my Orvis Access eight foot four weight rod, and I hiked for .5 mile, before I cut perpendicular to the trail and intersected with the creek. The flows were nearly ideal in my opinion, and the air temperature at the start was probably in the sixties.

A Good Place to Start


I launched my angling day with a yellow stimulator trailing a size 16 gray deer hair caddis, but the fish did not cooperate in the early going. Eventually the double dry fly offering began to click, and I built the fish count to seven, by the time I paused for lunch at noon. The stimulator created mostly refusals, and the caddis was the main attraction for the high country trout. All the trout were small cutthroats or cutbows in the six to ten inch range.

Perfect Color Scheme

After lunch I shifted direction and replaced the yellow stimulator with an olive hippie stomper, and then I extended the tippet from the bend and added a salvation nymph. The salvation accounted for a single trout, but then it was ignored, so I swapped it for a black sunk ant. The ant and stomper combination enabled me to increment the fish count from seven to eleven, but I covered a significant amount of water to net those four fish.


Spotted Fish Here

Once again I pondered a change, and in this case I opted to return to a double dry fly offering. It was early afternoon, and some large clouds blocked the sun to create some cooling, and I spotted a few random stoneflies and tiny mayflies in the creek environment. In fact, I needed to extract my raincoat for a short time, when a heavy mist changed into a brief rain shower. My choice for the double dry fly was a size 14 purple haze trailed by a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. Between 1:30PM and 2:30PM the fish count ballooned to sixteen, and the purple haze was the desired food source for most of the trout. After number sixteen shot from my net, I inspected the purple parachute fly and discovered that the hackle was shredded by some strong teeth. Before I could exchange it for a fresh version, I stupidly tried to execute a roll cast beneath an evergreen branch, and the flies snagged some needles beyond my reach. I applied direct pressure to the line (avoided using my fly rod), and snapped off the purple haze and caddis.

Very Fine Catch

I considered tying on another purple haze, but the catch rate had slowed considerably, so I knotted a solitary classic Chernobyl ant to my line in a size 10. I was below a long narrow gliding run that deflected off a very large angled log, and I flipped the foam attractor to the top of the run. Thwack! A magnificent twelve inch cutthroat reacted to the plop and engulfed the low riding fly. I cautiously steered the fish away from the log and its menacing branches and lifted it over my new net. What a beauty!

Closing In

For the next hour I continued upstream at a fairly rapid pace, and I cherry picked only the very best locations. I experienced one very brief connection with a decent trout under some low hanging branches, but that was the extent of my action for the remainder of the afternoon. I added a black sunken ant and finished the day with a double ant offering, but I was unable to interest the high country creek residents in a mid afternoon snack.

I found a relatively unobstructed path that led back to the road and hiked 1.3 miles back to the parking lot. Seventeen trout in five hours of fishing was decent but not exactly a torrid pace. All the trout, however, were absolutely stunning wild cutbows and cutthroats, and this more than made up for their diminutive size. Most importantly, other than the loss of three flies, I avoided losing or breaking any of my equipment.

Fish Landed: 17

Clear Creek – 08/01/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 1:30PM

Location: West of Idaho Springs

Clear Creek 08/01/2022 Photo Album

If you read my blog post of 07/29/2022, you know that I broke my Sage four weight fly rod on South Boulder Creek. When I returned home, I immediately filled out an online warranty claim with Sage and packaged my broken rod and mailed it to Bainbridge Island, WA. The broken rod was a sentimental favorite, as it was the first graphite fly rod that I purchased, when I moved to Denver. It was a 490-4 LL, and it served me well for at least thirty years. I am anxious to learn, if Sage can repair such an old rod.

Since my fly rod inventory was down to one Orvis Access eight foot four weight, I made a trip to Charlie’s Fly Box on Saturday, and I walked out of the store stunned and the owner of a brand new Sage R8 nine foot, four weight. Most of the shock came from the sticker price.

By Monday I was recovered from my state of depression and anxious to follow my commitment to focus on high country streams and tailwaters. I decided to make a relatively brief drive to Clear Creek, as the location I selected was at high elevation and flows remained quite robust. I am disappointed to report, however, that my outing was once again short circuited by a ridiculous angler error. Read on.

Small Pool Ahead

I arrived at the pullout high above the creek at 9:45AM, and by the time I assembled my Orvis Access four weight, hiked to my starting point and attached my flies; it was close to 10:30AM. The sky was perfectly blue, and the temperature was cool and in the sixties. By late morning the sun dominated the sky, and the temperature warmed, but then some heavy clouds moved in and kept the atmosphere cool during the early afternoon.

Pink and Lime

I began my search for gullible trout with a medium olive hippie stomper and beadhead hares ear nymph, and the combination delivered positive results. By the time I paused for lunch at 11:45AM, the fish count rested at eleven. All the landed trout were cutthroats and cutbows, and three hammered the hippie stomper, and the remainder nabbed the hares ear. Nearly all the fish were in the six to ten inch range with possibly one or two that stretched the tape to eleven inches.

Wild Beauty

After lunch I decided to experiment with a double dry. The hippie stomper drew periodic interest, but many of the strikes came in the form of refusals. I snipped off the hares ear and added a size 16 gray deer hair caddis on a twelve inch dropper.

Cutthroat Haven

Between 12:15PM and 1:30PM I flicked the dries to likely fish holding locations and moved the fish counter from eleven to twenty-four. I had a blast, as I moved quickly with only two or three casts to marginal areas. Eventually I learned to bypass the small and short pockets, as they produced only sub-six inch fish or no fish at all. The deeper slow moving holes next to logs and boulders were the spots that delivered trout. Of the thirteen early afternoon trout landed, three chomped the stomper and the remainder attacked the caddis adult.

Perfection with Fins

By 1:30PM I fell into a nice rhythm, and the fish count was improving steadily. It was at this time that I landed a very nice cutthroat that was probably my largest of the day at twelve inches. Because of its beauty and size, I paused along the bank to photograph it and carefully released it into the current. The spot I chose was at the tail of a nice pool and just above a narrow chute of fast water and small pockets. Somehow in the process of releasing the fish and unhooking the flies, the net slipped into the creek, and it was unclipped from the retractor on my backpack. I stabbed the water quickly, but I failed to get a grip, and in a fraction of a second the net floated downstream. As I pointed out, I was above a narrow chute, and the net gained speed and tumbled down the rapids. I quickly placed my rod on the rocks and began to scramble along the bank, but I was losing ground, and I began to fear for my physical well being. I could easily sprain an ankle, or even worse, fall and break something.

Lovely Red Cheek

I returned to the origination point of the runaway net, and I gathered my sungloves, camera and rod and began to wade downstream. I was banking on the net getting caught in a tree, log jam or shallow section; and my eyes searched anxiously for any exposed portion of the net. After .5 to .7 of a mile I encountered three successive stream improvement devises that spanned the entire creek, and I was certain  the net would appear; but, alas, no sign of it presented itself, and I conceded that my relatively new $100 Wolf Moon net was donated to the wilderness or some downstream beneficiary.

I was physically exhausted from the intense downstream wading exercise over extremely slick rocks, and I was mentally distraught. All I could think about was breaking my favorite rod and now losing my Wolf Moon net. I now realize why I purchased cheap nets up until this last purchase. I gave up my pursuit, and I hiked back to the car, after ending my day at twenty-four trout by 1:30PM. Once again I was forced to quit early, and similar to Friday I was on the verge of a very productive day.

Fish Landed: 24