Fishing Clear Creek
d n e k e e W de Mayo
With the arrival of each season in Colorado comes a barrage of new outdoors opportunities. And just as we’ll score our first ski runs after the mountains get pummeled with snow each November and December, we’ll also hit the rivers for our first few casts as that snow starts to melt in April and May.
The cycle keeps life fresh in Colorado, and it makes sporting special. Put away the snowboard and snowshoes, and prep the fly rods and the camping equipment. And repeat. I made my first casts of 2014 on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Clear Creek Canyon, that winding stretch of road best known by blackjack dealers, the casino faithful and anglers who know the river’s deep pools and oxygenated riffles as good as any other stretch in Colorado. Considering Clear Creek Canyon is less than a half-hour from downtown Denver, it’s amazing the river wasn’t more crowded with fishermen than it was that sunny weekend.
Much of fly fishing is about the ritual of it all. I’m just a beginner, and yet I’ve had enough of these days to know the motions well.
Retrieve my waders and boots from that highest shelf in the closet. Grab my rods and gear from the basement. Double-check the fly boxes, and make sure I have enough lead in case the fish aren’t rising to my dry fly. Find my old fishing license, and make a plan to stop by Englewood’s excellent Outdoorsman’s Attic for a new one. A blanket and water for the dog. Chairs, picnic and beers for us. And my hat – my hemp-fiber Tilley – which is one of the few pieces of clothing I automatically associate with
relaxation. As soon as I tried on my hat, for the first time since last fishing season, I knew we were ready.
About 20 minutes after leaving the house my fiancée, our dog and I are turning out of Golden and onto Highway 6. Its early gentle curves are foreshadowing of more dramatic ones to come. The drivers behind us clearly have purpose, and we pull over at one of the many pull-offs to let them pass; Our pace is more leisurely, and we’re giving the water a loose read from the road, as best we can. We pull off on one well-maintained dirt patch, but the river there is running too fast and high with all that excitable early-season runoff, so we continue on. Less than three or four miles from Golden city limits we find something better: A dirt pull-off with plenty of room, a well-worn dirt path down to a modest beach, rocks for tables and no trees or bushes – good news for my lady’s sunbathing and my casting.
Less than 15 minutes after our arrival: She’s comfortable with a Modelo and her Kindle, and I’m bringing in my first catch of 2014: A valiant fighter that revealed himself to be an eight-inch brown trout. He was a beautiful little guy, but this wasn’t his first rodeo; Situated in his lip next to my fly was a swivel from a previous angler who almost brought him into the net.
I gently removed my fly from his boney lip and then took out the swivel, tucking it away for good luck in my bib. And then I gave him the farewell taught to me by my father, a sportsman who proudly practices only catch and release: “Thanks a lot, man. I hope to catch you again.” And with that he left my hands and back into the deep and surprisingly clear waters of Clear Creek.
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Published on May 8, 2014
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