Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM
Location: Next to parking lot and inlet area
The rivers and streams of Colorado remained in an elevated state, and I was attempting to ratchet back the strenuous nature of my endeavors for a few weeks, so I decided to visit another lake. On Wednesday, June 21 I opted for Clear Lake, and this was another example of a lake described in my Colorado’s Easy Access Mountain Lakes book. The weather was predicted to be cooler than earlier in the week, and the threat of precipitation was minimal.
I departed Denver at 8:30, and I arrived at my chosen destination by 10:00AM. I quickly assembled my Sage four weight, and I ambled a very short distance to the south side of the beach area next to the parking lot. The easy access book repeatedly emphasized not fishing right next to the parking lot, but I ignored this advice. The sun was bright and the air temperature was in the upper sixties, so I wore no layers beyond my fishing shirt and stuffed my raincoat in my backpack.
In the early going I tossed an olive hippie stomper and trailed a size 16 gray caddis, and this double dry fly combination enabled me to establish a fish count of three. Two of the stocker rainbows caught during this time frame nipped the size 14 stomper, and one grabbed the trailing caddis. I also experienced quite a few brief connections, as the trout bumped the caddis without fully chomping down. The book suggested working along the southern shoreline, but it consisted of a steep rocky bank, and I was reluctant to negotiate the relatively severe terrain with my pledge to reduce stress. I clipped my flies to the rod guide and mounted a dirt bank next to the entry road and then followed a rough two-track to the inlet section. The book suggested that the inlet was the place to be, and the author described hours of hot fishing with a dry/dropper.
Initially I persisted with the double/dry, but other than a refusal or two, the offering was not effective, so I decided to make a switch. I followed the author’s lead, and I rigged with size 8 tan pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear nymph and a size 12 prince nymph. This combination proved to be the ticket, and I notched five additional trout before lunch to increase the fish count to eight. The hopper accounted for one fish, but the others nailed the prince. I began fishing the inlet by prospecting the faster run where the creek emptied into the lake, and this locale yielded a fish or two, but when I slid westward, so I was beyond a moderate-sized exposed boulder, I began to enjoy more success. The lake in this area dropped off and still carried some current; however, the tongue of the run fanned out to much slower moving water.
Just before lunch I inadvertently broke off the two nymphs, so after lunch I replaced the prince as the top subsurface offering and then added an iron sally. What a fortuitous move this turned out to be! Just before lunch some thick clouds blocked the sun for an extended period of time, and I grew quite chilled standing in the waist deep water. I decided to return to the car for another layer, but I left my rod and all my gear on the gradual shoreline. I decided to vacate the area, and a solo fisherman was below me, so I approached him and made the offer for him to take my spot. He was very thankful, but I was not certain he would change his position.
I quickly hiked back to the car and grabbed my North Face light down coat, and upon returning to my pile of gear, I snugged the down coat under my thin rain shell. My comfort level zoomed to positive and remained in that status for the remainder of the afternoon. Not wishing to wade waist deep again, I began shooting longer casts to the deep and moving water that rolled by forty feet across from my position. The fun began instantly. On the first three casts a rainbow trout attacked the iron sally, and for the remainder of the afternoon this torrid success level continued, until I boosted the fish count to thirty. Sixty percent of the time a trout locked on to the nymph on the drift, but a strip or twitch initiated action the rest of the time.
After an hour of this trout catching bonanza a trio of kids arrived, and they set up operations fifteen yards below me. The male of the group was likely in his late teens, and the two females were probably ninth or tenth grade. Their tools consisted of two fly rods and two spinning rods. They were not having much success, and they looked on in awe, as I hoisted fish after fish from the honey hole that was across from me.
At one point between fifteen and twenty landed fish, I snapped off the prince and iron sally on a backcast, and I retooled with a beadhead hares ear as the top fly and stayed with an iron sally for the bottom offering. During this time one of the young ladies asked to see my fly, and when I showed her, she produced her fly box and asked which of her flies I thought would work. I pointed to four flashy hares ear nymphs.
After breaking off two valued flies I decided to follow the gentleman who was below me before lunch. He crossed the creek above the lake and scaled a steep bank and positioned himself along the opposite shoreline thirty yards below my position and that of the teenagers. I hoped to eliminate the risk of loss during long backcasts, as the prime water ran very close to the bank across from me. The tactic worked, and after a brief creek crossing and short hike I was prepared to cast from the north shore.
I was pleased to discover that my catch rate resumed at a similar pace, if not perhaps even greater. The rainbow trout were all over my nymphs, although the hares ear began to produce, albeit at a lower ratio than the iron sally. Several narrow evergreens invaded my space, so I was forced to be very cautious with my backcasts and hooksets. Short roll casts served the purpose of keeping my flies in the water and out of the timber.
By 3:30PM I grew weary of the easy fishing (I cannot believe I am writing this), so I snugged up my line, climbed the bank, followed the trail, crossed the creek and returned to the trio of teenage friends. I asked the young man, if I could look at his line, and he gleefully handed it to me. He told me the rod was new and called it a Crosswater (I think). I inspected the fly, and he had a thick leader with a tiny elk hair caddis knotted to the end. What comes after 0X? I nipped off the fly and added three feet of 4X using a surgeons knot, although it was very difficult to cinch the thick leader side. I asked if he had any large foam flies, and amazingly he produced a size 10 chubby Chernobyl. I knotted it to the 4X, and then I asked to inspect his fly box. I instantly spotted a pair of flashy beadhead hares ear nymphs, so I added a three foot dropper to the chubby and added the flashy nymph. I proclaimed him ready to catch a fish and suggested that he cast to the area, where I was landing fish after fish from both sides of the lake.
The young angler gave it a game effort, but he was unable to extend a cast more than thirty feet or so, and the sweet spot required another ten feet. He was left handed, and he was applying his forward stroke way too early, and this drained all the energy from the line. I attempted to instruct him on how to pause to allow the rod to load, and he managed it a few times, but then he angled his arm on the forward cast and landed the flies upstream in still water rather than the target area. I began to shout at the moment that the rod loaded on the backcast, and that helped, but his flies continued to fall short. Meanwhile the two females landed a pair of fish on the spinning rod, and I sensed he wanted to transition back to that form of fishing.
I said my farewell, and they thanked me for my assistance, and I returned to the small cove next to the parking lot. Several fish rose sporadically, but the hopper/dropper was not their cup of tea, so I clipped off the flies and tied on a size 16 gray deer hair caddis. For the next fifteen minutes I fished this tiny morsel solo, and I increased the fish count to thirty-five, before I called it quits and ambled back to the car. Of the last five fish to feel my net, three reacted to a twitch or strip, and the other two crushed the fly, while it sat in a stationary position.
Wednesday, June 21 evolved into a fish catching orgy. All the trout were rainbows except for one brook trout that barely exceeded my self imposed minimum of six inches. The iron sally was far and away the favorite of the lake residents, although the prince, hares ear, pool toy, hippie stomper and deer hair caddis contributed to the haul. I suspect another lake fishing adventure lies in my near future, and my confidence in the Easy Access Mountain Lakes book is growing.
Fish Landed: 35