Category Archives: Bear Creek

Bear Creek – 07/15/2024

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between Morrison and Evergreen

Bear Creek 07/15/2024 Photo Album

I had a commitment which required me to leave our house in Denver by 5:00PM, and additionally I needed time for a shower, a change of clothes and time to pick up dinner. In order to complete this timeline, I needed to quit fishing no later than 3:00PM. This constraint, in turn, dictated that my fly fishing outing on Monday needed to be nearby. With high temperatures projected to reach 95 degrees, the Front Range offered few good alternatives.

My friend, Nate, provided some positive reports on Bear Creek, so that became my choice. I arrived at a small pullout along the winding road beyond Morrison at 10:15AM, and this enabled me to approach the creek by 10:30. The temperature, when I began, was 86 degrees, but I decided to bypass wet wading, because I was unsure of the terrain and vegetation. I was a bit warm during my time on the creek, but I was not unreasonably uncomfortable.

Clear and Moderate Flows

For my rod I selected my Loomis two piece five weight, as I expected to toss dries and dry/dropper, and I like the slower action for that chore. The Loomis is also 8.5 feet long, and I viewed that as advantageous in the narrow confines of the canyon with an abundant quantity of  overhanging branches.

To begin my search for trout I chose a peacock hippie stomper trailing a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the early going I covered a significant amount of stream, and I landed two small brown trout. One took the hares ear and the other smacked the stomper. I also noticed a couple swirling refusals to the hippie stomper. Most of the action was on the surface, so I swapped the hares ear for a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis.

Unfortunately for me, these flies were not attractive to the fish, if in fact there were fish in the stream. I say this because I observed very little evidence of trout in the form of looks, sightings, or refusals. After an hour of fishing, I encountered a waterfall, so I climbed the north bank and circled above the falls. I gazed upstream, and I was faced with a narrow canyon with rock walls on both sides. Should I attempt this section? I decided to give it a try and figured it offered the advantage of light pressure, as most anglers would not undertake the difficult wade.

Narrow Canyon

I carefully edged along the rock wall using small ledges for foot placement, and I survived the riskiest portion of the upstream migration. Once I was on solid ground, I evaluated the creek structure, and I concluded that the narrow streambed created deep runs and plunge pools, and my small dry fly offerings were probably not the proper choice. I sat on a rock and re-rigged with a size 8 pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead salvation nymph.

I worked my way upstream methodically and generated a pair of refusals to the hopper, before I made an errant back cast and snagged a tree limb. The branch that possessed my flies was higher than I could reach, so I unhooked my wading staff from my belt to allow extra extension. I used the staff to strafe the branch a couple times, but it was not moving or hooking the fly, so I dropped it, and resorted to tugging on the upper nymph, and this in turn snapped off the salvation nymph. But wait a minute, did I say I dropped the wading staff? Remember it was no longer attached to my wading belt. Upon realizing my mental lapse, I saw the wading staff bobbing down a white water cascade thirty yards downstream. I swore at my stupidity and began the mental task of making the best of a lost wading staff. I was already resolved to quit fishing in order to construct a new staff during the afternoon, since I planned to fish again on Tuesday.

Recovered Wading Staff

I was not about to undertake additional challenging wading in the narrow canyon without a staff, so I ascended a steep bank and walked back along the road to the car. Could the staff have gotten lodged somewhere between my exit point and the car? it was a long shot, but I now had the rest of the afternoon available, so I decided to complete a search. I stuffed my rod in the car and scampered down the dirt path and followed the fisherman path along the creek. Along the way I found a branch of the correct length and commissioned it to walking stick duty.

I constantly inspected the banks and scanned for my wading staff, particularly where I noticed a collection of natural branches. Eventually I arrived at the waterfalls, and just below the falls there was a huge jumble of sticks and branches collected from the high flows of run off. I did not see my staff among them, but I was unable to view the collection above some large rocks near the opposite bank. I marched up along the shoreline for a short distance, and I spotted the end of a long cylindrical object. Could it be? Yes, it was my wading stick. I used my makeshift staff to cross the creek and carefully negotiated the stick jumble, until I could retrieve my three dollar broom handle. I was elated!

I returned to the car, and now that I had my safety net to lean on, I decided to explore a different section of Bear Creek. I continued west through the canyon, and I was blown away by the number of pullouts occupied by fishermen. I had no idea that tiny Bear Creek receives such an enormous amount of pressure. I can always tell a heavily fished area by the extent to which the paths are worm, and heavy usage was definitely evident, where I fished.

Same Stream, Different Look

Best Fish of the Day

After a short drive I found a parking space, and I grabbed my rod and gear and ambled directly to the creek. I sat in some tall grass next to Bear Creek and downed my lunch, and then, since I lost the salvation nymph on my dry/dropper, I converted back to a hippie stomper and deer hair caddis. I progressed upstream for the next two hours and managed to land four additional trout to up the fish count to six. One of the trout was a rainbow, and the other three were browns. Midway through this period, the stomper dominated with refusals, so I exchanged it for a size 16 light gray comparadun, and this combination did the heavy lifting. Of the four landed after lunch, one smacked the comparadun and the other three gobbled the caddis.

Next to Grassy Clump Was Brown Trout Home


On this hot day in July, the recovery of my wading staff was easily the highlight. My largest trout was probably the eight inch rainbow, so size was not a positive. But given Nate’s recent skunking, I felt somewhat relieved to catch a few fish under very difficult hot and sunny conditions. It is only the middle of July, and I am already considering limiting my fishing to higher elevation streams and tailwaters. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 6

Competing Angler

Bear Creek – 03/12/2024

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: West of Morrison

Bear Creek 03/12/2024 Photo Album

I did not lose any flies, and I did not fall in the creek. I did not injure myself in any way, and I did not break any equipment items. The weather was quite nice for late winter, and my new car performed admirably. My friend, Howie, accompanied me on this trip to Bear Creek, and he was the perfect companion. There were a lot of positives on March 12, 2024.

Howie and I arrived at our chosen fly fishing destination at 11:10AM, and the parking lot was completely devoid of vehicles. I was curious to know what it looked like on the previous sunny Sunday. I pulled on my North Face light down coat and added my rain shell along with my billed hat with ear flaps. The dashboard thermometer registered in the low 50’s, but I knew from previous visits that fishing in the shadow of the nearby ridge was a chilly experience. Quite a bit of snow and ice shelves remained along the first section of the creek that we fished, and this was testimonial to the lack of sunshine and frigid temperatures.

Initially I rigged with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, size 14 prince nymph and a size 16 beadhead hares ear. Howie opted for a grasshopper with a gray dubbed body and a beadhead hares ear nymph, that he tied. We alternated casting in pools for the first hour, but there was no evidence of trout in the crystal clear and low Bear Creek. After thirty minutes I swapped the hares ear for a salvation nymph, and the change had no impact on the sulking trout population in Bear Creek.

After lunch we resumed our upstream migration; but, alas our fortunes remained on the negative side of the ledger. I cycled through numerous fly changes including an olive mini leech, a 20 incher as the top fly for added weight, and an RS2. The 20 incher was an experiment with fishing depth, and the RS2 tested the idea that the fish were tuned into smaller natural food items. Neither theory applied, but I searched for answers nonetheless. Howie stayed with his hopper and hares ear, and midway through our afternoon, I swapped the hares ear for an apricot egg.

By 2PM we reached a less attractive section of water that was characterized by wide and shallow riffles, so we hoofed back to the car and drove to another parking lot farther upstream. Here we quickly grabbed our gear and hiked for .3 mile, before we cut to the creek and resumed our dance with futility. During this last part of our day, I witnessed a brown trout, as it rose and snubbed the fat Albert, and that was my closest encounter with a trout during the three hours of fly fishing. I also sighted a trout along the bank below an ice shelf, but I was unable to get quality drifts over the target, and it disappeared into the depths.

Toward the end of the day Howie broke off both his flies on a rock, so he converted to a deep nymphing configuration with a strike indicator and beadhead hares ear. I observed, as he made some impressive drifts through promising runs and along undercut banks, logs and ice shelves; but the magic was absent for him as well. The sky once again clouded over, and a sudden chill enveloped our persons, so we returned to the parking lot at 3:00PM and made the return drive to home.

I listed the positives in the first paragraph, but I am forced to admit that we were victims of a double skunking on Bear Creek. For me, early season fly fishing is very temperamental, and I anxiously look forward to warmer temperatures, increased insect activity and active fish. A large winter storm is on the horizon for Denver, so I will likely not be posting additional fishing reports for a bit.

Fish Landed: 0

Bear Creek – 11/14/2023

Time: 11:30AM – 1:45PM

Location: Between Morrison and Evergreen

Bear Creek 11/14/2023 Photo Album

A predicted high of 71 degrees in Denver, CO prompted me to make another drive to a Front Range stream on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. I regretted my choice of extremely low Boulder Creek on Sunday over Bear Creek, so I made the small stream that flows through Morrison my destination.

I made the forty-five minute drive to a favorite spot along Bear Creek, and the dashboard thermometer registered 59 degrees. I pulled on my black Under Armour long-sleeved shirt under my fishing shirt, and I assumed that this would be adequate given the temperature and the likelihood of it rising, while I was on the creek. I rigged my Orvis Access four weight, and I tromped to the edge of the stream. I was surprised to encounter snow coverage on both sides of the small creek, but the flows were decent and in the 17 – 20 CFS range.

I rigged my line with an olive body size 14 hippie stomper and dangled one of my new olive perdigons beneath it on a 2.5 foot dropper, On my tenth cast to a nice run, I snagged an overhead tree limb, and I was unable to reach it for rescue, so I pulled directly on the line and snapped off the valuable perdigon. Needless to say I was not happy with this ominous start to my Bear Creek fly fishing day. Rather than risk additional losses on the small stream with tight vegetation and trees, I replaced the perdigon with a salvation nymph.

I continued fishing upstream until 11:45AM, at which point I broke for lunch. The section where I began was next to a steep hill that blocked the sun’s rays, and it felt like the temperature was in the low forties instead of the fifties. I was quite chilled after thirty minutes of fishing, and the Santa Fe was twenty yards away, so I returned to the parking lot to eat my lunch, and I added my North Face light down coat as an extra layer.

While eating lunch I pondered my fly offerings, and I decided to supplement the salvation nymph with a small size 18 apricot egg fly. I returned to my exit point and worked my way upstream between noon and 1PM, and I managed to land three brown trout. Two were in the seven inch range, and one was a twelve inch prize, although it was extremely lean. I also connected temporarily with two trout and landed a small brown that was beneath my six inch minimum. Surprisingly these trout were located along the edges of runs of moderate depth. The slower moving deep pools that suggested trout habitat did not produce. Two of the landed browns snatched the salvation, and the skinny twelve incher gobbled the egg fly.

By one o’clock my hands were gnarled and aching appendages. In spite of my best efforts to dry them after handling fish and stripping my wet line, the evaporation effect predominated, and the discomfort made fishing seem like a chore rather than fun. I exited the stream with the intent of returning to the car to call it a day, but then I had second thoughts. What if the stream curved around and flowed through full sunlight? I hiked in a northwestern direction along the packed snow trail, until I encountered a footbridge. The hill along the southwest side of the creek was more distant and lower, and this allowed the sun to bathe the creek in sunlight. I could not resist the temptation to cast my line in the warm sunshine, so I spent another thirty minutes prospecting the stream above the pedestrian bridge. Alas, I was unable to tempt a single trout; and, in fact, I never saw evidence of the existence of the cold water species in this section; however, my comfort level rose, and I focused on laying out nice long casts to promising runs.

By 1:45PM the lack of action convinced me that it was time to call it a day, and I trudged back to the car. Three small fish in 1.75 hours of fly fishing in mid-November was respectable, but the bone numbing fingers experience was not something that I wished to replicate. I might consider fishing a larger river in a wide valley with stronger sun penetration for any future fly fishing excursions, before I call it quits for 2023.

Fish Landed: 3

Bear Creek – 03/03/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 1:15PM

Location: Lair O’ the Bear Park

Bear Creek 03/03/2021 Photo Album

With mild temperatures forecast for Wednesday, March 3, I could not contain my urge to visit a local stream for my first fishing outing of 2021. My initial plan incorporated a trip to the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, but when I checked the stream flows, I was disappointed to discover a reading of .66 CFS. Apparently the work on Buttonrock Dam was still in progress. I quickly refocused my search and settled on Bear Creek and the South Platte River near Deckers. Ultimately I selected Bear Creek, because it was a shorter drive, and I was reluctant to travel the extra time to Deckers for an early season trip.

Typical Open Water on Bear Creek

I arrived at the Lair O’ the Bear Park lot by 10:45, and I was armed with my Sage four weight and ready to cast by 11:00AM. I was disappointed to learn that much of the creek was covered in ice and snow, but I gambled that I could entice a fish or two to my flies from the intermittent open sections. I began my quest for fish number one of 2021 with a yellow fat Albert, hares ear nymph and sparkle wing RS2. On the second cast one of the nymphs hung up on the stream bottom, so I gave the rod a quick upward flick. The flies immediately came free, but the catapulting action of the the lift and bent rod sent all the flies to a dead branch above and behind me. I attempted to unwrap the flies, but it was a futile effort at retrieval, and I broke off three flies after only two casts in the new season. It was an ominous start to 2021.

Nice Spot

I found a nice rock and sat down, while I reconfigured my line. For some reason I replaced the fat Albert with a size 10 Chernboyl ant, but I replaced the hares ear and RS2 with different versions of the same flies. I began moving along looking for openings in the ice and snow that enabled decent drifts, but I was unable to attract the attention of any resident trout. My mind began to wander to thoughts of moving to the South Platte River above Chatfield Reservoir, as I knew that section of the river would be ice free.

Scene of My One Landed Trout

After hopscotching through five holes I encountered another fisherman, so I circled around him and followed the trail to a spot above a foot bridge. I resumed the practice of fishing the open areas, until I encountered a nice deep run with an overhanging ice shelf along the left side. I executed ten casts, and then I spotted a couple decent trout as they darted from beneath the ice shelf. One seemed to stop three feet out from the shelf, but I was unable to spot it in the greenish brown bottom.

Orange Scud Was a Winner

The sight of several fish spiked my focus, and I decided to swap the RS2 for an orange scud. I surmised that perhaps the bright orange color would imitate eggs or at the very least stand out compared to the drab brown and olive background. On the third cast with the orange scud the Chernobyl ant displayed a subtle pause, and I lifted the rod to sense a connection with a thrashing twelve inch rainbow trout. I had already chalked Wednesday up to an exploratory skunking, so imagine my delight when I netted the prize rainbow! I recorded a video and snapped a few photos to document my first fish of 2021 and continued my progress upstream.

Vibrant Colors on Display

Shortly after my success story I approached another nice open deep spot where the current reflected off the left bank. I flicked a cast to the top of the run, and just as it drifted to the lip of the hole, a trout darted to the surface to inhale the Chernobyl ant. In spite of my state of shock over a dry fly rise early in the season, I managed to set the hook, and I was momentarily connected to a trout. Alas, the joy of hooking a second fish did not persist, as the trout quickly shed the hook and disappeared into the depths.

Momentary Hook Up Along the Ice Shelf on the Left

After my two connections I proceeded in a westerly direction, but it wasn’t long before the stream narrowed between steep banks, and this condition prevented the warming rays of the sun from melting the snow and ice covering. The open holes that provided periodic fishing opportunities were nonexistent. I called it quits on Bear Creek and hiked back to the car, where I ate my lunch and then departed for the South Platte River above Chatfield Reservoir.

Fish Landed: 1

Bear Creek – 05/29/2020

Time: 11:45AM – 2:45PM

Location: Lair of the Bear Park

Bear Creek 05/29/2020 Photo Album

As mentioned in my last post on May 28, 2020 my streak of catching at least one trout in each month of 2020 was in dire straits. Three days remained in May to guide one measly fish into my net. Of course I spent the first twenty-five days of May recovering from heart valve surgery, but I am not hiding behind that circumstance as an excuse. On May 26 and May 28 I made futile attempts to catch a trout, so for Friday May 29 it was time to get serious. I contacted my friend, Trevor (@rockymtnangler), and asked for his recommendation. Trevor is always well informed on Front Range streams, and he suggested the Cache la Poudre River and St. Vrain Creek. The flows on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek were 165 cfs, and I knew that level to be challenging from previous experience. The Poudre was intriguing, but since I was in surgery recovery mode, I was reluctant to make the longer drive for a few hours of fishing. I was uncertain whether my heart, chest and shoulder were recovered enough to endure a long day of fishing.

I began to review the stream flows on the usual suspects along the Front Range. I quickly ruled out South Boulder Creek, Clear Creek, Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson River. All were over my upward limit and rising. Bear Creek was encouraging at 26 CFS, and Waterton Canyon momentarily had me excited with very favorable flows between 60 and 118 CFS. Unfortunately I recalled that Waterton Canyon was closed due to the coronavirus, and a quick web search confirmed my memory. The South Platte tailwaters were all in prime flows and conditions, but again I was not interested in a trip of that length. I decided to cast my lot with Bear Creek near Morrison, CO.

Near My Starting Point

I completed my cardiac rehab on Friday morning, and upon my return home I hustled to gather up my fishing gear. Since I only expected to fish for a couple hours, I skipped lunch preparation and instead threw a box of trail mix granola bars in my bag. Traffic was light, as I traveled west and then southwest to Morrison, CO; and I arrived at a small parking lot at Lair of the Bear Park by 11:30AM. The lot was completely full except for one slot near the trailhead, and I quickly grabbed it. I pulled on my waders and rigged my Orvis Access four weight and cut directly to the stream in front of me.

Kept the Steak Alive

I began my quest for a May trout with a tan pool toy hopper trailing a size 12 prince nymph and an emerald caddis pupa. The park was quite busy with dog walkers and hikers, but I did not spot another angler for the first hour. I advanced upstream and plopped the three fly configuration into all the likely trout holding spots. The stream volume was reasonable, but a fair amount of discoloration made the deep pools quite opaque. In the first hour I managed to land two fish. A small brown trout that snatched the prince nymph, as it tumbled along the far bank, was my first catch, and it represented the continuation of my “trout in every month” streak.

A Small Rainbow in the Mix

As I progressed upstream, I began to observe quite a few fairly large insects, as they hovered above the creek. I was uncertain whether they were caddis adults with an egg sac or golden stoneflies or yellow sallies. Eventually I swatted one from the air with my hat and brought it close for examination. The insect in my hat was clearly a golden stonefly that could be imitated with a size 14 2XL stimulator or deer hair golden stonefly. I had yet to spot any rising fish, so I swapped the emerald caddis pupa for a size 14 iron sally nymph.  The move quickly paid dividends, when I landed a ten inch rainbow from the tail of a deep run. I was very optimistic at this point that the iron sally was the appropriate fly, and my expectations soared.

Rainbow Was in Front of the Stick Dam

High expectations are rarely fulfilled, and Friday was no different. I suffered a lull in action, as I dropped my three fly rig in all the likely locations. Meanwhile the insect activity intensified, as caddis and a small mayfly joined the golden stoneflies, and in response I witnessed a few sporadic rises. Surely, the decent number of fluttering stoneflies suggested the surface feeds were a response to the largest and most prevalent food source, stoneflies.

I plucked a size 14 deer hair yellow stonefly pattern from my MFC fly box and knotted it to my line. I executed numerous gentle casts to some very attractive shelf pools and current seams, and I was certain that I solved the dry fly riddle. Alas, I did not. The fish showed no interest in my slender stonefly imitation. Perhaps a more heavily hackled pattern would create the illusion of movement? I replaced the deer hair version with a size 14 yellow body stimulator. Once again the stream residents were unimpressed, as I covered a significant amount of water without even a look or refusal. I probably invested forty-five minutes in fruitless dry fly casting, so I decided to cut my losses and reverted to the dry/dropper approach.

One Final Little Guy

I flipped open my fly box and scanned my collection of large foam top flies and selected a chubby Chernobyl with a tan ice dub body. This fly is very buoyant and quite visible, and I was interested in both those qualities. The prince nymph produced my first fish, so I retained it in my lineup, but for my point fly I selected a fusion nymph. This was one of the new patterns I tied during my surgery recovery phase.

Lots of Options Here

I prospected this three fly arrangement for the last hour and managed to land a second small brown trout on the fusion nymph.  By 2:45PM I approached a footbridge, and the character of the stream was less attractive with long wide and shallow sections. Given my weakened post surgery condition, I used the marginal stream structure as an excuse to exit and hike back to the parking lot.

Three small fish in three hours represents a very slow catch rate, but I was pleased to keep my one trout per month streak alive. I was also happy to find a stream that provided a fly fishing option on May 29, a relatively late date in the snow melt cycle.

Fish Landed: 3

Bear Creek – 06/11/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Lair O’ the Bear Park

Bear Creek 06/11/2019 Photo Album

I finally took some time yesterday to review the stream flows in Colorado after being in Oregon and California for eleven days. I discovered that the stream flow graphs for the freestone rivers and streams in Colorado were on a steep upward trajectory. In the tailwater category, however, quite a few viable options remained. I decided to sample one of the tailwaters on Tuesday, and the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek at 107 CFS was an obvious choice. I knew from experience that decent fly fishing was possible at these levels. I also created a list of other tailwater options, but most of them required a longer drive.

Yesterday in the afternoon I called our plumber to schedule a follow up repair to the kitchen faucet, as it was not working properly since a repair four weeks ago. The young lady chose an appointment window between 8AM and 9AM on Tuesday, and I quickly accepted in order to obtain a quick resolution of the problem. Unfortunately this delayed my fishing departure time, and I was limited to a front range stream. The North Fork of St. Vrain Creek fit that description, so I was not concerned about the appointment interfering with my plans.

On Tuesday morning I began gathering my usual array of fishing gear, but before I prepared a lunch, I decided to make a final check of the DWR stream flow data. It was a sound choice, as I discovered that the flows on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek rocketed from 107 cfs to 260 cfs within the previous twenty-four hours. In fact, as I write this report, I checked again, and the most recent value is 445 cfs. The only remaining close by possibility was Bear Creek, and the graph displayed fairly stable flows in the low 70 cfs range. I quickly changed my destination choice to Bear Creek.

A Productive Spot

I departed from my house in Denver at 9:35AM and arrived at the Lair O’ the Bear parking lot by 10:45AM. I was lucky to snag a parking space, as the lot was filled with all manner of cyclists, hikers, walkers, dog walkers, and outdoor summer campers. By the time I pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight, it was 11AM. I studied the trail network on a nearby sign board map, and I decided to hike downstream on the Creekside Trail, which eventually intersected with the Bear Creek Trail. This sequence appeared to deliver me to Little Park at the downstream border with private property. I fished Bear Creek numerous times before, but I never opted to hike downstream, so this was new water for me.

Starting Lineup

The creek was flowing high at 70 cfs, and clarity was decent despite a slight dark tinge. I began across from the Little Park parking area, and I configured my line with the always popular yellow fat Albert, a beadhead prince nymph, and an emerald caddis pupa. I speculated that the dark color of the prince and the bright emerald of the caddis would be ultra visible in the high slightly off colored flows.

This represented solid thinking, but I fished from 11:30AM until 12:30PM, and only landed one nine inch brown trout, and the brown smashed a hares ear nymph, after I swapped it with the emerald caddis pupa. After lunch on a large wide log next to the creek, I reconfigured my line with an iron sally as the top nymph and the hares ear in the bottom position. This combination remained on my line until I quit at 3:30.

Best Fish of the Day

At 1PM I notched a second small brown that snapped up the hares ear, as soon as it entered the water in a deep eddy pool in the middle of the stream. During this early afternoon time frame I observed tiny mayflies, size 18 caddis, and quite a few small golden stoneflies. The stonefly sightings prompted me to add the iron sally to my lineup.

Yummy Run

From one o’clock until 3:30PM I prospected the likely spots with the dry/dropper arrangement and boosted the fish count from two to ten. The action was steady, and I improved my ability to recognize water types that might yield trout. Surprisingly the slow narrow bands along the bank were not as productive as some midstream lies. The width of the stream bed was a significant predictor of fish density, and I learned to spend more time in wider areas where the high flow spread out and created conditions more conducive for fish to conserve energy while feeding.

A Chunk from Bear Creek

All the landed trout latched on to the hares ear nymph, except for one very respectable eleven inch brown trout that crushed the iron sally. The fat Albert invited three refusals, but the fly was probably too large for the small mouths of the Bear Creek residents. I moved at a faster than normal pace, and the catch rate was fairly steady in the afternoon. Bear Creek proved to be a nice fall back option after the blowout on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek. I actually waded quite a bit and crossed the stream a few times to dislodge snagged flies. Lake fishing will wait, until I am shutout in tailwaters and small streams.

Fish Landed: 10

Bear Creek – 04/24/2017

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Cold Spring Gulch to Corwina Park and O’Fallon Park

Bear Creek 04/24/2017 Photo Album

I suspect it has been four or five years since I last visited Bear Creek. While undergoing physical therapy for my sprained MCL, I met a young physical therapy aid named Hayley. In the course of conversation I learned that she and her boyfriend Doran love fly fishing, and on my last visit she obtained my mobile number, so she could share it with Doran. Several days later I received a text message from the aforementioned Doran, and we agreed to meet on a local stream. Doran suggested Cold Spring Gulch on Bear Creek as our meeting place between 9 and 9:30 on Monday morning, and our text message exchange became a bona fide plan.

As I drove west on CO 74, I noticed a sign for Cold Spring Gulch, but a parking area was not obvious, so I continued on to Corwina Park, where I immediately texted Doran to let him know my whereabouts. Doran arrived at Corwina Park by 9:30 on Monday, and after I strung my Orvis Access four weight, we were on our way. The temperature was in the upper 50’s when we began, and the flows were a bit low at 20 CFS but very clear for late April.

We hiked downstream along the shoulder of CO 74 to the bend where Cold Spring Gulch entered Bear Creek, and then we descended a steep bank and crossed the creek below a cyclone fence with several very visible no trespassing signs. Doran occupied a gorgeous long deep pool, and I continued downstream to a point where a large rock wall jutted into the creek. I began with a yellow fat Albert and trailed a single beadhead hares ear, and I covered quite a bit of nice water before I returned to Doran, who was in the process of moving upstream beyond the private water. During this early period I landed one nine inch brown trout that grabbed the hares ear in a relatively shallow riffle.

An Early Catch on Bear Creek

The paths along the creek were well worn, so I suspected that the obvious prime spots were pressured over the weekend. Bear Creek in this area is public water and open to fishing with bait, lures and flies. When I reached the private property sign, I exited and used the main trail to circle around the fenced water until I crossed a bridge. After crossing the bridge I turned on to a fisherman path that led upstream from the bridge pool. Thirty yards above the bridge I found Doran, and we compared notes from our fishing so far.

Promising Water Ahead

Doran decided to try the dry/dropper method using a large foam top fly, and I presented him with one of my yellow fat Alberts. Over the remainder of the morning we alternated nice deep runs and riffles, and I picked up two more brown trout in the process. Doran also experienced some success, and he became a loyal fan of the fat Albert.

At noon we advanced to a point above the parking lot at Corwina Park, and we could see a fisherman ahead of us, so we exited and returned to our cars. I grabbed my lunch and snacked at a picnic table in the park, and then we drove farther west to O’Fallon Park. I wanted to introduce Doran to a new area. We crossed the bridge and parked in the parking lot on the other side of the creek, and then we hiked on the gravel path until we were above another fisherman and just below the bend run next to a streamside restaurant.

Yum. A Fat Albert Snack.

Doran positioned himself next to the deep run, and he experienced a refusal as his flies drifted next to some large exposed rocks. When he moved up to the prime section, I began casting to the area of the rise. I tossed the fat Albert to a narrow space where a side current curled back to the main flow, and I was shocked when a fish bolted to the surface and crushed the fat Albert. I was certain that the brown trout was the fish that snubbed Doran’s cast earlier, and I landed the greedy little guy and snapped a photo.

Doran Shows His Catch

Meanwhile Doran ran his dry/dropper between the faster current and a foam patch, and he observed a pause and landed a decent brown that snatched the beadhead hares ear. We were both thrilled with his success. We continued upstream until we reached the next bridge, and then we called it a day and returned to the parking lot.

I landed two additional average size Bear Creek browns during this time, and they both grabbed the hares ear. On Monday four of my netted fish favored the hares ear, one smashed the fat Albert, and one nipped a salad spinner. Doran was pleased with his results, and he vowed to tie hares ear nymphs and fat Alberts when he returned to his apartment. I could not have asked for higher praise from a fishing friend.

Fish Landed: 6

Bear Creek – 07/02/2013

Time: 2:30PM – 6:00PM

Location: O’Fallon Park

Fish Landed: 8

Bear Creek 07/02/2013 Photo Album

Bear Creek is a small creek, and the fish are rarely longer than ten inches, but the flows were ideal and it takes less than an hour to reach from my house, so that was my destination on Tuesday, July 2.

I finished everything I can accomplish for June closing on Tuesday morning and clocked out for the Fourth of July holiday. I arrived home around noon and ate my lunch while reviewing the stream flows. I had a half day to fish so I didn’t want to travel too far. Clear Creek and South Boulder Creek were still running high, and I was saving NF of St. Vrain for Wednesday, so I decided to visit Bear Creek. The flows were 14 cfs, and I remembered that this is close to ideal for the small stream that flows from Evergreen to Morrison and then to Denver.

I grabbed the last space in the parking lot at O’Fallon Park and quickly put together my Orvis Access four weight and pulled on my waders and walked down the dirt road that is now barricaded with signs stating that it is a fire lane. There were kids tubing and playing in the stream across from the parking lot so I moved above them and cut in just ahead of some picnickers. I tied on the Chernobyl ant with a yellow indicator and below that I added a salvation nymph. The water I began fishing probably gets pounded as it is in the western part of O’Fallon Park, but I worked it quickly with no more than three casts to promising water. I covered quite a bit of ground with no response, but then in a current seam next to a run the Chernobyl dipped and I set the hook and landed a nine inch brown trout.

The rest of my fishing afternoon on Bear Creek pretty much followed this same script. I limited my casts and covered a lot of water and landed the occasional small fish. I had the most success in water with decent depth (2-3 feet) right next to the bank with some sort of cover or structure. I landed two browns that grabbed the trailing nymph when I fed line downstream and allowed the two fly combination to drift right along the bank and under some overhanging branches.

Fairly Typical Brown from Bear Creek

Fairly Typical Brown from Bear Creek

I caught the first two fish on the salvation nymph, but when my success rate stalled I exchanged it for a beadhead hares ear and that pretty much took all the remaining fish. I noticed a fair amount of refusals to the Chernobyl but stayed with it due to its buoyancy and visibility.

In the nice water next to the restaurant in Kittredge I switched to a size 16 light gray caddis without any success, and I did the same at the nice pool below the bridge in Kittredge. In both cases I managed a refusal but returned to the Chernobyl/hares ear combination for better results.

A Deer Pauses for a Drink Above Me

A Deer Pauses for a Drink Above Me

I managed to land eight small browns in my late afternoon adventure, but it wasn’t easy fishing. I covered a lot of water and needed to make accurate casts in tight quarters, and the fish were quite spooky and not tolerant of sloppy casts or reckless wading. A day of catching small trout is better than not fishing at all.

Bear Creek – 6/5/2011

Time: 1:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Lair of the Bear Park

Fish Landed: 6

Bear Creek 06/05/2011 Photo Album

With temperatures in Denver touching the 90’s, snow melt was kicking in. I checked the flows and Bear Creek remained at 27 cfs. In an earlier outing I fished Bear Creek at 22 cfs, so I knew this was probably fishable water.

I packed up my gear and lunch and headed out the door at around 11:30. I arrived at the Lair of the Bear parking lot at around 12:15 and was fortunate to get a parking space. I ate my lunch in the car and then put on my waders and rigged my rod. It was quite warm and there were fishermen and picnickers and runners and bikers and dog walkers everywhere. I headed west on the Bear Creek Trail along the stream. It looked a bit high but very clear.

Classic Bear Creek View

I was looking to begin fishing where I’d ended the previous visit to Bear Creek, and when I reached that point, another fisherman was already in the stream so I moved above him by 50 yards or so and entered the water. I initially tied on a Chernobyl ant trailing a beadhead hares ear. This combination wasn’t producing so I clipped off the BHHE and replaced it with a beadhead emerald caddis pupa. As I moved upstream I noticed the occasional golden stonefly fluttering up from the creek, so I removed the Chernobyl ant and replaced it with a Letort hopper. This proved to be a success and I landed two small browns on the Letort hopper after it got submerged in eddies.

Bear Creek Brown

I also managed a brown on the emerald caddis, but on two or three occasions during this time, I hooked branches too high up to remove the flies without breaking them off. I was doing this when I saw a pause of the fly, and set the hook too hard with no fish attached. After reaching a group of young girls wading into the creek for a refreshing cool off, I walked on the trail around them, and then re-entered. I hadn’t caught any fish for awhile so I returned to the Chernobyl ant trailing a beadhead hares ear and beadhead emerald caddis pupa. In between the Letort hopper and Chernobyl I also tried a small yellow sally with a quill body and a light gray caddis, but these didn’t produce.

When I came to a bridge I waded to the other side and began prospecting the water with the three fly combination and landed three small browns, two on the emerald caddis and one on the Chernobyl ant. I also had a couple refusals to the Chernobyl. I attribute the success in this area to being further away from the path and fishing nooks and small pockets along the opposite bank.

Yellow Flower Grows from Rock

It was now late in the afternoon and I came upon a sign that announced the area was private property, and I was quite warm so I decided to quit for the day and hike back to the car.

Bear Creek – 5/18/2011

Time: 1:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Lair of the Bear Park

Fish Landed: 8

Bear Creek 05/18/2011 Photo Album

I went into work Wednesday morning, but the office manager had not informed me that April was ready for closing, so I took care of a few things and then left my desk at around 11AM. I exchanged Rockies rain checks for a game in August and then stopped at the Vitamin Cottage for a few items. The sky was clouding up as I drove home, but I thought I’d like to try fishing at Bear Creek in the afternoon. Bear Creek was my second choice for Tuesday.

I ate my lunch at home and packed the car with my fishing gear. I took off at around 12:30, and as I merged on to I70 the skies opened and dumped buckets of rain. As I progressed westward, the rain changed to hail. In fact there was an inch of hail on the highway as traffic slowed to a crawl with two bare lanes among the accumulated hail. I debated making a U turn, but I decided to check out the stream since I was halfway there.

When I exited C-470 and drove through Morrison, I caught my first glimpse of Bear Creek and it looked quite clear so I continued to Lair of the Bear Park. It was still raining pretty hard and there were three fishermen by a truck putting on their rain gear, so I climbed in the back of the Santa Fe to stay out of the rain and put on my waders and boots. The temperature on my car thermometer was 45 degrees so I wore my down vest under my raincoat and used my ski hat under the hood. The rain eased a bit as I began hiking the Bear Creek trail west and away from the parking lot. I hiked perhaps .4 miles to the Creekside Trail and branched off to the left. The trail met the stream at a nice long run and pool.

I tied on a yellow Charlie Boy hopper without any wing material as I wanted to use it only as an indicator and dropped a beadhead hares ear off the bend on a 2.5 foot length of leader. In the first deep run I had a momentary hook up as I lifted my rod to recast. I worked my way up the small stream prospecting all the likely pockets, seams and holes. It didn’t take long before I landed a small brown on the beadhead hares ear and photographed it for proof.

Small Brown from Bear Creek

Bear Creek 45 Minutes from Home

Shortly after catching the first brown, I snagged on a stick and thinking it was a fish, set the hook and broke off both flies. I’m guessing a bad knot was the culprit. I decided to replace the Charlie Boy with a Chernobyl ant and the hares ear with a bright green caddis pupa. The Chernobyl would remain as my top fly for the remainder of the afternoon, and the bright green caddis pupa got switched out for an emerald caddis pupa half way through my remaining fishing. I landed an additional seven small browns, and the frequency of fish hooked or observed increased as I moved farther from the parking lot and trail. Casting was difficult in the small stream with tight overhanging vegetation, but flipping the foam Chernobyl helped quite a bit. All the fish caught were on the beadhead subsurface fly with roughly half taking the bright green caddis and the other half the emerald caddis.

Huge Fish by Bear Creek Standards

Just before 4PM the stream met the trail again, and I managed to catch a brown in a nice deep run and pool as I heard thunder and the sky grew ominously dark. I decided to quickly exit and walk back down the trail and change out of my waders before the next storm hit. By this time my hands were red and curled from the cold air temperatures. It was 42 when I checked the car thermometer. Before I could reach the car, the rain began to come down steadily and not wishing to get my clothes wet while changing, I threw my rod, wading stick and fishing backpack in the car, and drove back to Denver in my waders.