Skip to content
Fishery Overview: Clear Creek

Fishery Overview: Clear Creek

Here at Golden Fly we help people gear up for everything from throwing chubbies in Patagonia for big browns to chasing Giant Trevally on the flats in the Seychelles. But, more than anything we advise people on flies and techniques for our local watersheds. More than anything we get asked which flies work best for Clear Creek, so much so that I figured that I would write a blog that gave an overview on Clear Creek.

General Information

Clear Creek has multiple points of origin but the commonly fished section starts in Georgetown and flows all the way through the canyon and out to Golden. It offers great dry fly, nymph and even streamer fishing for trout. Anglers can expect to catch primarily brown and rainbow trout but also have the opportunity to hook into brook and cutthroat trout. The average length that we see out of Clear Creek is 8-12 inches due to the small size of the creek, but fish up to 20 inches have been caught!

Although the main fishing season is from March through November, in warmer winters there’s the potential to fish each month of the year. Being a freestone, it is highly susceptible to the elements and with its canyon location, it almost always freezes so don’t bet on fishing it most winters. During the summer months after runoff, expect the creek to be rather busy on most weekends. The river is close to a major metropolitan area and is a short drive that offers great fishing. If you have the time for it, we always recommend fishing on the weekdays, even if it’s a short period before or after work.

Access on Clear Creek

In Colorado public access can be an issue on some stretches of rivers and streams. As you leave the city of Golden on Highway 6 you will be in Clear Creek Canyon for about 17 miles. This section is all public and you are free to fish any part of the creek. The only barrier to entry is finding good parking where you and your vehicle can be safe. Luckily there are many pull offs along the road where you can safely rig your rods and stay out of the way of traffic. Most of the time I find that I can find a pull off close to the area that I want to fish which usually results in a short walk. Some areas that I recommend for parking are Clear Creek Canyon Park Gateway Trailhead which is right at the mouth of the canyon in Golden as well as Clear Creek Canyon Park Big Easy Trailhead which is about 9 miles up the canyon from Golden. Both have deep, slower moving pockets that feeding fish love to hang out in.

From the western mouth of the canyon through Idaho Springs and up to Georgetown there is some private water that you cannot fish without permission. The fishing is great in this area and we encourage folks to go. A great tool to have on the water is an app called OnX which allows you to see updated private property lines as well as a wide range of other helpful features.

Fly Recommendations


Frenchie sz 14-18


The frenchie is a simplified, jigged version of a pheasant tail. It is a great option for imitating a wide range of aquatic insects which makes it effective year round.

Perdigon sz 14-18


Much like the frenchie, a perdigon is a super simple fly that resembles nothing and everything at the same time. I love this fly because it sinks efficiently which is important in Clear Creek’s fast currents. 

Jig CDC Thrasher sz 16-20 


Sticking with a jigged profile, the CDC Thrasher is another fly that is great at getting down in those deep, fast pockets. Its CDC collar gives it great movement in the water which can be the difference in getting picky fish to eat.

Spring (late March - early June)

Improved Sparkle Dun Baetis sz 20


In the spring one of the best ways to target fish is with a blue winged olive (BWO) pattern. In Clear Creek, we often see the BWO hatches beginning in the late-morning and going through the mid-afternoon. The sparkle dun is a great pattern to target rising fish during the hatch.

Two Bit Hooker Black sz 14-18


Stoneflies are one of the best ways to have a banner day on freestone rivers and creeks. In the spring a smaller two bit hooker can be hard for hungry pre-spawn fish to pass up!

Squirmy Worm sz 14


Spring runoff can be a tough time to fish when the rivers turn brown and the flows rise. When sediment gets pushed off the bank from snowmelt so do worms and other terrestrial insects which makes fishing a squirmy a great way to pick up some runoff fish.

Summer (June - August)

Micro Chubby sz 14-16


Who doesn't love watching a fish crush big dry flies? While the fish might try to eat a size 8 chubby they are often too small to swallow it so we recommend fishing down to a size 14-16 for consistent hookups. Running a dry dropper rig with one of the year-round flies mentioned above is a great way to fish a micro chubby in the height of the summer.

Flexie Girdle Bug sz 12


A Flexie is a staple stonefly imitation during the summer months. Using a Girdle Bug below a Micro Chubby can be a very productive combination on Clear Creek.

Hi Vis Foam Caddis Tan sz 14-16


For those looking to fish dries, the foam caddis is a favorite here at GFS. We enjoy fishing this pattern as a stand alone dry or behind a micro chubby to help you locate it on those faster drifts.

Fall (September - Early November)

Micro Dungeon sz 10


As temps drop many anglers gear up for streamer season. Clear Creek offers limited streamer fishing due to the size of the fish but I have found the fish are more than willing to chase down small streamers in deep pools and eddies.

Parachute Ant sz 14-16


Ants are a great all around trout fly since they offer an easy meal when they fall into the water from the banks. Fish tend to be willing to rise to an ant anywhere in the water column.

Poison Tung sz 18-20


The poison tung is an all around great midge. Similar to other flies on this list, the tungsten bead allows it to get down fast to where fish are holding in deep holes.

Winter (November - March)

Griffith’s Gnat sz 18-20


During the cold months, dry fly hatches can be slow but midge hatches can still be consistent. A Griffith’s Gnat is a great imitation to have in your box because, unlike other midge dry flies, it can represent a single midge or a cluster of midges and often brings lethargic fish up from the depths.

Zebra Midge sz 18-22


Quite possibly the most widely used nymph pattern, the zebra midge works well on Clear Creek as well as most trout fisheries. Its non-tungsten bead counterpart, the black beauty, can be used for a more delicate presentation.

High Def Baetis sz 18-20


Many of us have baetis patterns in our boxes for our local tailwaters, but they can also be effective on Clear Creek. I recommend fishing this below a split shot or weighted fly to help it get down to feeding fish.

We hope this overview was helpful for your next trip to Clear Creek. If you have any questions about fishing Clear Creek, feel free to reach out to Harper via email at, or call the shop at 303-330-1292.

Previous article 3 Flies for the Week: May 6
Next article 3 Flies for the Week: April 29

Leave a comment

* Required fields

Liquid error (layout/theme line 610): Could not find asset snippets/smile-initializer.liquid