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Fly Fishing Clear Creek – Colorado

Fly Fishing Clear Creek – Colorado

Clear Creek is a great fly fishing destination near the front range of Colorado. It boasts healthy populations of smaller trout, and is a great place to escape to for a day.

Although the trout are on the smaller size, fishing Clear Creek can be really consistent and you can catch lots of trout in a day. Throughout the summer and fall, the dry fly fishing can be amazing, and the trout are willing to eat large, bushy attractor patterns.

Clear Creek has a shorter fishing season than most rivers, since it freezes over during the winter. Shelf ice can make it impossible to fish during the colder months. Since Clear Creek is a freestone stream, it is much more vulnerable to colder temperatures.

This article will cover good intel on fly fishing Clear Creek. If you make it out to Colorado, I highly recommend checking this fishery out.

Clear Creek Fishing Access

 

My favorite fishing access is through Clear Creek canyon. This can be accessed off of highway 6 outside of Golden. There are many dirt pulloffs along this stretch, which provides easy fishing access. The canyon is pretty much all public water, which is a great plus. Keep in mind that some of the hills down to the river are very steep – there is definitely some rock hopping involved. Some hills are simply too dangerous to walk down, so keep this in mind.

You can spend a whole day in Clear Creek canyon, hopping from spot to spot. I like to fish through a section, and then drive up to another area. It can get busy with anglers during the warmer months, so some areas may already be occupied by other fly anglers.

Highway 6 eventually reaches I-70, which is the main corridor between Denver and the Rocky Mountains. There is some access off of I-70, and you can sometimes find Brook Trout on these higher reaches. There is river access throughout Idaho Springs, which is a small town right off of I-70. I like to head up to the Georgetown area, which is further up I-70. There is plenty of good access below Georgetown Lake. On these reaches, you will find more Brook Trout populations, as well as some Cutthroat trout here and there.

Following the I-70 frontage road allows for miles of access along upper Clear Creek.

Keep in mind that the weather can change drastically on these upper reaches. I-70 is known for getting huge storms, even in the summer. Make sure to bring layers as well as a rain jacket.

Best Months To Fish Clear Creek

The summer and fall are most productive on Clear Creek. As stated before, the winter will cause a lot of Clear Creek to freeze over, which makes fishing impossible.

During runoff, Clear Creek gets a lot of snow melt and is unfishable. During this time, there will be lots of rafters and kayakers utilizing the creek. Once runoff tapers off in June, the fishing gets really good as the water drops. This is when fly anglers will start fishing it. After runoff, the trout are eager to eat flies and feed aggressively.

Throughout the Summer months, I like to use a dry dropper setup. This allows you to easily fish pocket water as you work your way through a section. Small streamers can also work well, too. For streamers, I like to fish small Woolly Buggers and leeches.

 

During late summer and into fall, the trout are more willing to eat hoppers, so you can throw larger patterns. This can be an absolute blast, especially for newer fly anglers. I often won’t use a nymph dropper during these times, just a large foam hopper. Cast it into likely pocket water as you work upstream.

Flies To Use On Clear Creek

Since the dry fly fishing can be so good on this creek, I like to have an assortment of terrestrials and smaller dries. For dry dropper setups, I like to use a Chubby Chernobyl in sizes #12-#16, Amy’s Ants in sizes #14-#16, and Hippie Stompers in sizes #14-#18. I will also use Caddis patterns, such as Elk Hair Caddis and Puterbaugh’s Foam Caddis. You can also throw smaller ant and beetle imitations.

For nymphs, I usually go with bead head attractor patterns. Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, Princes, Rainbow Warriors, and small Stoneflies. The fish aren’t too picky on Clear Creek, so you can play around with different patterns. I like to keep the nymphs on the smaller side, in sizes #14-#18. If your nymphs are too large, Clear Creek trout may shy away from them.

If you are into fishing streamers, Clear Creek can be a good place to throw them. Try Woolly Buggers in sizes #8-#12, and smaller single hook streamers. Thin Mints, leeches, and Sculpzillas will all work.

Conclusion

Although it is often overlooked, Clear Creek is a great fishery that fly anglers can enjoy. You have probably driven past it on the way to the ski resorts, but it is definitely worth stopping for. I have had some amazing dry fly days on this creek, and you can find some really nice fish.

There are many many miles of Clear Creek to explore, so the choice is yours. Either spend the day in Clear Creek Canyon, or travel up to the I-70 corridor in hopes of Brook trout and Cutthroats.

Make sure to have a good selection of dry flies and attractor nymphs. I prefer to fish Clear Creek with a 4 weight rod, but a 5 weight will work fine also.