Off The Shelf (Road) And Into Four Mile Creek Canyon

Early July 2019

For an account of my earlier sojourn on Four Mile Creek, see my July 2015 article.

The epic runoff of 2019 in Colorado has put the fishing for most of us on the shelf.  So what better way to break the hex but to fish Four Mile Creek below scenic Shelf Road near Cañon City!  I haven’t been back to this little wilderness canyon gem for almost four years, so am anxious to see what changes time has wrought.  Four Mile Creek usually runs clear and fishable most of the year, being a tailwater of private Wright Reservoir upstream near the historic mining and now-gaming town of Cripple Creek.  The Colorado Division of Water Resources gauge near Cripple Creek reports a flow of 13 CFS, which is about perfect.  Flows between 10 and 20 CFS are best in my experience.

I’m on the road at 7 a.m. from my spot at the Indian Springs RV Campground just north of Canon City.

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Indian Springs Campground Off Phantom Canyon Road

I’m doing a shakedown trip this week to test out my new mobile mini fish camp travel trailer and to salve my fishing fever.  I head into town on US 50, looking for the turnoff at the Burger King onto N. Raynolds Avenue.  Raynolds goes north and turns into Pear Street, and then I take a right onto Fields Avenue.  After a few miles I intersect Highway 9 that climbs into Red Canyon.  The striking western scene sends out good vibrations of a fine fishing day to come.  The weather outlook is excellent—barely 60 degrees now with a predicted high of only in the lower 80s while Cañon City will be cooking in an early summer heat wave.  I stay away from the creek in late July through early September—too hot in the canyon and rattlers likely to greet you then.

When the pavement ends I start to wend my way down the gravel road into Four Mile Creek Canyon.  Highway 9 turns into one-lane Shelf Road perched high above the canyon and creek.  I stop at a turnout and hold my breath as I edge to the steep drop-off to take my first peek at the water…and am thrilled to see it is in good shape.

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Taking Another Gambol On Upper Beaver Creek Near Cripple Creek, Colorado

Early July 2019

Note:  See my September 2018 article for more about fishing Upper Beaver Creek and the intriguing history of Skaguay Reservoir.

https://hooknfly.com/2018/09/07/taking-a-gamble-on-upper-beaver-creek-near-victor-co/

The epic runoff of 2019 continues and with it my search for fishable trout waters.  Most of my favorite rivers and streams—the Arkansas, Gunnison, Saguache, Cochetopa, and Tomichi—are still blown out.  But Beaver Creek below the gambling and mining town of Cripple Creek appears to be candidate based on the latest reported water levels.  It’s running at 18 cfs downstream at Penrose, eminently fishable, and the fact that it is a tailwater below Skaguay Reservoir means it’s probably clear as well.

I had a fun day on upper Beaver Creek late last summer and want to explore the next section further down.  Last trip I hiked in about two miles below the reservoir, stumbled on a small beaver dam and pond, then fished back up from there.  I caught dozens of brownies in the six-to-twelve inch range and a few bigger in the spillway just below the dam.  Now my plan is to hike another mile or so below that point and explore some new water.

I’m off a bit after 7 a.m. from the Indian Springs Campground near Canon City where I am giving my new smaller mobile fish camp a shakedown run (For the story of the demise of my former rig, see my article “A Trip Through Hades.”).

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The New Mini Mobile Fish Camp At Indian Springs Campground

My route is up through Phantom Canyon, an endlessly scenic but rough track that everyone should do at least once.  It’s very slow going, taking me almost two hours to cover the 25 miles or so to Cripple Creek/Victor and Skaguay Reservoir.

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Phantom Canyon Scenic Route

It’s hard to believe this route was carved out of this rugged country for a railroad in the late 1800s.    But my mind is on fishing, so I push on.

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