Competitive Fly Fishing Practice on Clear Creek

Recently, I spent a morning with Will McDonough of the US Youth Fly Fishing Team. I’ve been coaching Will this summer after being his controller (judge) at an event in Laramie, Wyoming. The venue was a section of Clear Creek Canyon that Will had never fished. As a competitive fly angler, it’s important to be able to break down and successfully fish water that you’ve never been on. This is exactly what happens in competitions, so simulating this feeling adds to his experience.

We started out at 9:30am and he was given three hours to fish, the standard competition session length. I told him all sizes of fish counted for this session and accurately kept stats while continuing to coach him. I also kept track of misses (missed takes) and drops (fish that were on for a time before coming loose). As is typical on Clear Creek, the smaller fish were active first, then gradually larger ones started showing up.  WIll started with a typical euronymph rig and two of my nymphs.  If you aren’t familiar with euronymphing (competition nymphing), it involves fishing one or more weighted flies subsurface, with no attached weight or floats allowed.  The angler recognizes a take by watching a colored piece of line called a sighter.

Clear Creek holds mostly wild brown trout in the 5-12″ class, with occasional rainbows, brook trout, and cutthroats.  You’ll see a brook trout in the video below. Things started getting fast and furious as the morning progressed and it became more difficult to score, coach, and film simultaneously. He switched over to a dry-dropper setup and went through some perfect pocket water.  Interestingly, these pockets held a few wild rainbow trout.

Will switched back to the nymphs and continued to work upstream. As expected, the brown trout kept coming and the average size got bigger. When the final bell rang, Will had compiled 33 fish!  This is a testament to both the quality of Will as a fly fisherman, and the numbers of trout inhabiting Clear Creek. Check out the highlight video on YouTube, and take a second to subscribe to my channel!