Clear Creek – 04/17/2023

Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 041/17/2023 Photo Album

Monday, April 17 was a gorgeous spring day in Denver with the high temperature in the mid-seventies. I could not resist the urge to wet a line and settled on a trip to nearby Clear Creek for my fly fishing fix. I was planning another trip to the South Platte River on Wednesday, so I was averse to undertaking a long drive on Monday. I evaluated the typical Front Range options, and I eventually settled on Clear Creek. I was disappointed to note that South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson River were already rolling at elevated levels, with SBC 111 CFS and the Big T 99. Both of these are manageable, but they are above my ideal range. Jane and I hiked along Clear Creek on Sunday on the Peak to Plains Trail, so I had first hand knowledge that the creek west of Golden was running low (27 CFS) and clear, and I liked the certainty of this option.

Because my destination was relatively close, I opted for a two hour pickleball session on Monday morning, and when I returned home, I gathered my gear and downed my lunch. I arrived at my chosen parking lot by 12:45PM after being forced to stop twice by flagmen, while highway maintenance sessions were in progress. I quickly pulled on my hooded fleece for comfort in the shadows and against the breeze, and then I rigged my trusty Sage four piece, four weight.

Off and Running with Perhaps the Best Fish of the Day

Ultra Zug Bug Produced

I waded upstream for .2 mile, until I reached a place where the creek bed narrowed, and this topography created more deep runs, riffles and pockets. Given the low and clear conditions, I chose to begin my quest for trout with a yellow size 8 fat Albert, beadhead ultra zug bug, and beadhead hares ear nymph. During the first hour I prospected upstream and managed to net three medium sized brown trout by Clear Creek standards in the nine to eleven inch range. Each fly accounted for one fish. The catch rate was fair, but the three landed trout were accompanied by quite a few looks and refusals to the fat Albert, so I decided to downsize  and go with a double dry. More fish seemed to be looking toward the surface for their meals than lower in the water column. I switched to a peacock body hippie stomper and trailed a gray size 16 deer hair caddis. The hippie stomper fooled a small rainbow trout, but it was slow going, so I swapped the caddis for a size 14 yellow sally dry fly and positioned it behind the hippie stomper, and this combination delivered another brown trout that selected the hippie stomper.

Nice Current Seam Here

Trough Near the Left Bank Log Stream Improvements

It was clear that the double dry was generating less interest than the earlier dry/dropper, so I once again changed course and reverted to a dry/dropper. For my last assault on the Clear Creek trout population I deployed a classic size 10 Chernobyl ant and a beadhead prince size 14. This proved to be my best move of the day, and I built the fish counter from five to twelve. Two of the last seven trout crushed the Chernobyl ant, and the remainder nabbed the weighted prince nymph. I avoided adding a second nymph, and this reduced the inevitable rash of tangles associated with a three fly configuration.

Prince Turned the Tide

Chernobyl Ant Gets In on the Action

By four o’clock I approached a convenient exit point, and I took advantage. The last thirty minutes featured dark gray clouds and reduced lighting, and a breeze became an ever present companion. I was pleased at this point to have had the foresight to wear my fleece hoodie. Unfortunately I never witnessed a blue winged olive in response to the overcast conditions.

Afternoon Success

Second Rainbow Trout

Monday’s day on Clear Creek surpassed my expectations, as I landed double digit trout. Once I settled on the Chernobyl ant and prince nymph, the pace of action accelerated a bit, and I grew confident that I could interact with trout, when I encountered the proper structure. I am fairly certain that the larger and weighted prince accounted for the biggest difference from my earlier approaches. It was good to learn that Clear Creek can produce some decent action within close proximity to my home.

Fish Landed: 12

Promising Deep Trough Along the Right Bank