Clear Creek – 04/30/2023

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 04/30/2023 Photo Album

I had a blast on Monday in Eleven Mile Canyon in spite of weather that was only moderately more comfortable than my previous wintry trips, and I anxiously looked forward to additional time on the water, before the true runoff kicked in. Nearly all the drainages in Colorado are at 100% or greater of average snowpack, so snow melt could be strong and lengthy in 2023. Unfortunately two storm fronts rolled through the state during the week, and this held the temperatures down to levels that precluded this angler from fly fishing.

I typically avoid fishing on weekends, but my itch to wet a line was so overwhelming, that I made the short drive to Clear Creek in Clear Creek Canyon on Sunday, April 30. The temperature in the canyon was in the low to mid sixties, and the flows were in the 40 CFS range. The creek displayed a tinge of color but not enough to impact the fly fishing.

Slow Velocity and Depth

I was lucky to snag a prime parking space in spite of a cadre of rock climbers, so my timing must have been fortuitous. I quickly prepared to fish and assembled my Sage four weight, while I pulled on my fleece hoodie, since the narrow canyon encompasses quite a bit shade.

Way Up There

Good Start

I carefully picked my way down a rocky path to the edge of the creek and rigged my line with a yellow fat Albert, a prince nymph and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the thirty minutes before lunch I connected with and landed two small brown trout that grabbed the hares ear, and I was off and running.

Nice Pool

I could continue recounting my progress and fly changes, but in summary, it was a slow day in the canyon. I switched flies often, and I was never able to identify an offering that generated more than one or two fish. I cycled through the fat Albert, classic Chernobyl ant and peacock hippie stomper on top. For the subsurface offerings I experimented with the prince nymph, hares ear, ultra zug bug, emerald caddis pupa, and go2 sparkle pupa. As I mentioned, each produced one or two fish. Toward the end of my time on the water I tried the hippie stomper trailing a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, but the double dry only yielded the tenth fish that sipped the hippie stomper. I was curious to try the caddis adult, because quite a few naturals fluttered about, when I grabbed the streamside boulders.

Best Fish of the Day

I observed three or four rises during my upstream migration, and I possibly noticed a blue winged olive or two in the air, but switching to a baetis in the fast and narrow canyon felt like a futile move. I did try a bright green go2 sparkle caddis, and I jigged it and fished it on a swing, and I managed to fool one aggressive feeder at the tail of a small pool.

My Future

In roughly three hours of focused fly fishing I landed ten small trout. Nine were browns, and one lone rainbow graced my net. The rainbow was the largest of the ten and probably measured in the eleven inch range. Refusals were prevalent with both the fat Albert and the size 8 classic Chernobyl ant, and this circumstance explained my shift to the hippie stomper.

Soft Grip

Sunday was a tough day. I covered a significant amount of water, and the wading was quite treacherous with numerous large and slippery boulders to negotiate over and around. The fish seemed to be looking to the surface for food, but I was unable to establish a consistent producer. I felt quite fortunate to achieve double digits on this perplexing day.

Fish Landed: 10