High Water Dry Fly Fishing on Clear Creak

Posted: May 25, 2009 by bluequillangler in Fishing Reports - Colorado

           Now that we are experiencing higher water from run-off, many inexperienced anglers get “down in the mouth” and discouraged. Inexperienced anglers feel they have to hang up their rods until July. I have had several anglers come into the Blue Quill moaning over the lack of fishing opportunities an the Blue, Colorado, Eagle and Roaring fork continue to rise.  Perhaps this “mind set” is born out of past frustration of not being able to catch fish in high water?  One man this last week told me, “Clear Creek is up over 500 cfs so I will have to wait until mid July in order to fish it again”.  In order to dispel this fantasy towards high water, I headed down to a favorite area on Clear Creek around Kermits.  I took one look at the water and joyfully decided to give it a try. Yes, it was high, running over 650 cfs and a little off color. Visibility into the water was probably 1.5 to 2 feet and certainly clear enough for fish to see the fly. I knew the majority of the fish would be pushed over to the edges, behind rocks and in the softer areas where the trout could get out of the current and still find a meal or two. I selected a #8 Orange Stimulator as my first fly and attached  24 inches of Fluorocarbon 4x tippet and chose #12 Elk Hair Caddis as my second fly. After treating my flies with Shimazaki crystal   floatant, I systematically began working my two dries into the multitude of pocket water opportunities created when Clear Creek was channeled into a fast moving trough.  After casting into several likely holding areas I got the first strike.  I watched as a foot long Brown chased my Stimulator downstream. When the trout’s mouth came out of the water to close on my stimulator it made a nice pop missing the fly by two good inches. That first strike put added confidence in the possibility of fishing Clear Creek in high water with big dry flies. I fished up through several more pockets with no strikes. Soon shadows were appearing on the water behind rocks and I wondered if the number of strikes would increase as I moved up stream in the low light conditions.. “Perhaps that first aggressive brown was a fluke”, I wondered to myself.  As I looked upstream a large, beaver cut log protruded out from the bank creating a break in the fast water.  Two inches of water overflowed the top of the log creating a “soft spot” and a foam line below it. “A perfect lie for a brown trout”, I thought.  My two dry flies landed in the “soft water inches below the log. Immediately a yellow flash and my Stimulator was sucked under by a waiting, stream bred brown trout. When I set the hook the 10 inch brown catapulted out of the water as if confident it could break my 4 x tippet. After releasing the spunky brown I continued working the bank,  moving upstream. Huge boulders in the water in front of me created soft water eddies, and foam lines ideal for a resting trout. I scrambled up and down the rocky bank dropping my fly inches from the bank. Over and over chunky browns couldn’t resist my offering. As dark settled in the jagged canyon, I climbed up the rocky bank and out to highway 119. I had hardly noticed the Memorial Day traffic speeding up the Canyon and onto I-70. I wondered how many of the many anglers and campers who were heading out on their three day Memorial day week-end actually knew how great the fishing can be in Clear Creek, even in high water.

I had to go back today, Memorial day. The water was still pretty clear even after the rains we have had the past few days. Steve Parrott took his nymph rod and I hooked up with two dries. I fished first with two dries and Steve came in behind me with Czech nymphs. This was definitely a nymph day because Steve managed to catch a trout in most of the likely spots. I had several hit my Stimulator. I took off the second dry and added two bead head droppers. The fish were definitely deeper today and nymphing and dropper rigs had more  hook up’s.

Jim Cannon

  1. timothy says:

    i read this article and went out fishing an hour later on the Kettle river, caught my first fish in June.

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