Category Archives: South Platte River

South Platte River – 11/08/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Deckers area

South Platte River 11/08/2022 Photo Album

After landing two decent brown trout on soft egg flies on 11/01/2022, I advanced tying egg flies on my winter fly tying schedule, and I produced fifteen 6MM egg flies on size 12 scud hooks. I was unable to locate apricot eggs at the local fly shops, so I used the two that remained in my supply and then produced four chartreuse and nine red/pink versions. Having completed this assignment, I was anxious to test the product of my labors, and with a high temperature forecast in the sixties on Tuesday, November 8; I made the trip to the South Platte River in the Deckers area.

When I arrived, the flows were 127 CFS, and the air temperature advanced to the low sixties. I was very excited to test my new flies, but one negative interfered with otherwise favorable conditions on November 8, and that was wind. The wind gusted continuously throughout my time on the river, and a strong headwind prevailed most of the time. My shoulder and elbow were tired, but hopefully I avoided excessive strain in my efforts to counteract the severe blasts that rolled down the canyon.

Starting Point

I wore my Under Armour long sleeved shirt, my fishing shirt, and a fleece hoodie; and I was comfortable for my entire time on the water. My Sage One five weight was placed into action in order to offset the wind, as it possesses length and stiffness. I marched down to the river and began casting at 11AM; and a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, apricot egg and sparkle wing RS2 were featured in my dry/dropper configuration.

Egg Chomper

I spent three hours and thirty minutes on the river, and I managed to land three trout. The first and best visitor to my net was a nice thirteen inch brown trout, and it responded to my apricot egg. The other two trout were small rainbows in the seven to ten inch range, and they chowed down on the RS2. Yes, it was a slow day on the South Platte River. In addition to the three landed trout I experienced one foul hooked fish and a temporary connection.

There Is the Apricot Egg

At 12:30PM I spotted a few blue winged olives, and I searched for rises in a slow section and noted two. I was reluctant to undertake the time required to switch to a dry fly approach, and I suspect my decision was sound, since the surface activity was extremely sparse and lasted only a short period of time. By 1:45PM I lost confidence, so I swapped the apricot egg for a pink/red translucent version, but the move failed to ignite action. At one point I climbed the bank, and as I strode along the road, I noticed two fish in a trough between some aquatic vegetation. I carefully maneuvered down the bank and placed five or six casts through the trough, but the fish ignored my offerings, and I moved on in frustration.

Area That Produced

In two separate locations I spotted a cluster of spawning fish, as they swam in circles and attempted to gain prime positions for reproduction. I never witnessed this activity on November 1, so perhaps my timing overlapped with spawning to a greater degree and perhaps this impacted my slow catch rate.

End of Day Shot

By 2:30PM I was bored out of my mind, so I climbed a six foot bank and hiked back along the road for .5 mile. The wind was my enemy, and I could not convince myself to continue the battle given the largely futile fishing conditions. I took solace in the fact that I was outdoors in beautiful surroundings, and I avoided a skunking with three trout including a respectable brown that responded to my egg fly. The weather will dictate whether this was my last day of the season, so I will continue to follow the long range forecast.

Fish Landed: 3

South Platte River – 10/11/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 5:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/11/2022 Photo Album

Another nice fall day was in the forecast for Tuesday, October 11, so I decided to take advantage with a fishing day trip. I checked a report on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and the mention of tricos and blue winged olives sealed the deal. I made the drive to a favorite pullout along the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and a check of the dashboard thermometer revealed an air temperature of 53 degrees at 10:35AM. I elected to pull on my light down coat, and I rigged my Sage R8 four weight, before I departed and hiked .3 mile up the dirt road to a place, where a manageable angled trail allowed me to safely descend to the river. The river was rushing along at 134 CFS, and that was a bit higher than what I am used to, but clarity was excellent, and wading was conducive to moving along the river with relative ease.

Promising Spot

The air was devoid of any insect activity, so I began my day with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, 20 incher and hares ear nymph, and within the first thirty minutes I landed an eight inch rainbow and foul hooked another. Before I stopped for lunch at noon, I added a second small rainbow, after I swapped the hares ear for a sparkle wing RS2. The morning session included some prime pools and runs, so I was somewhat disappointed with the deep nymphing effectiveness. I ate my lunch overlooking my favorite long, smooth pool, which was occupied by a young female angler. She was flinging a nymph rig as well with an orange strike indicator, and she landed a respectable fish, as I looked on.

Brawling Eleven Mile Canyon

After lunch I changed my approach to a single CDC BWO, and the move paid off quickly, when an eleven inch brown rose to sip the tiny olive mayfly imitation. Just above the place where I landed the brown, I sighted some nice trout, and they were rising to something miniscule. I dwelled at that one small eddy far too long, as I attempted to interest three fish in my CDC BWO, but they were having none of it, even though they rose to naturals sporadically around my fly. I finally admitted defeat and moved upstream through some pockets, where I added another small rainbow to the count.

Solid Brown Trout 2

My next stop was the nice pool next to some large boulders with vertical walls along the river, and here I converted to a peacock hippie stomper trailing a CDC olive: but, surprisingly, I never saw a rise in this area nor did the trout exhibit any inclination to eat my fly. A father and son team occupied the large bend pool, so I circled around them and moved fairly quickly to the long smooth pool that exists along the east bank below the entrance to the first of a series of tunnels.

Scanning for Rises

Red, Pink, Tan

Started a Trend

Almost immediately I spotted a pair of rises at the extreme downstream end of the long pool, so I lobbed some casts across and down, and checked my cast high to create a soft landing and a bit of slack. On the fourth such drift, a small but fat brown trout smacked the CDC BWO. This fish was oddly shaped, as if it was moving toward a bluegill figure, as it displayed a disproportionate girth for its stubby length. The other trout that showed itself upon my arrival never surfaced again, so I carefully waded toward the midsection. During this phase of my day, small dark clouds periodically blocked the sun, and this generated wind, and the frequency of rises increased. My CDC BWO, however, was ignored, so I spent an inordinate amount of time doing what Deming said not to do. I was repeating my action and expecting different results, and that was a recipe for failure. Finally I began to experiment with different size CDC BWO’s, but again this was not the answer, until I plucked a size 22 Craven soft hackle emerger from my box and applied floatant to fish it in the surface film.

Soft Hackle Emerger

Chrome-like Gill

Right Side Up

What a positive move this turned out to be! I cast across to a slightly riffled spot on the other side of the center current, and a fat sixteen inch rainbow smashed the emerger with confidence. I battled this strong fighter longer than usual, but I rejoiced, when I slid my net beneath the prize. Over the remainder of the afternoon I landed five more trout to boost the fish count to eleven, and the last six fish on the day were all in the thirteen to sixteen inch range with plenty of girth. Two very respectable browns were part of the haul, and the remainder were rainbows including one that nearly matched the sixteen incher. Who knew that a soft hackle emerger fished like a dry fly was the solution to the South Platte River fish feeding puzzle?

Leopard Bow

I had written the day off as a four fish disappointment, and I ended up in double digits with some very respectable fish. Of course there were a few long distance releases and refusals over the five hours of fishing, and I could have easily run the count to fifteen with a better conversion rate. This experience made me wonder what the hatch would be like on a rainy day, or one with heavier cloud cover. I would like to find out, although I might have to endure some fairly chilly temperatures.

Fish Landed: 11

The Drive Back

South Platte River – 06/13/2022

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 06/13/2022 Photo Album

After five days of pickleball and social gatherings I was anxious to return to fly fishing on Monday, 06/13/2022. The weather forecast predicted a high of 98 degrees in Denver, so cold water was high on my priority list for Monday. On Sunday I inventoried all my usual fly fishing destinations in Colorado, and I confirmed that all freestones and even some Front Range tailwaters were blown out; and, thus, not viable options for Monday. I experienced decent success on 06/08/2022 on the Davis Ponds, but I surmised that the hot weather might impact a stillwater fishery more than a tailwater. The DWR website displayed decent flows on the South Platte tailwater, and I quickly settled on the Eleven Mile Canyon section. The graph depicted a gradually declining flow curve with the current reading registering 87 CFS. I knew from historical experience that these flows were favorable for fly fishing.

Pocket Water Was Productive on This Hot Day

I arrived at my chosen pullout along the Eleven Mile Canyon road by 11:00AM, and after I assembled my Sage One five weight and pulled on my waders, I ambled upstream for .2 mile and then cut to the river on a steep path. I began fly fishing in a relatively narrow section that featured huge exposed boulders and deep runs and attractive pockets around the rocks. I tied a size 10 classic black Chernobyl ant to my line and then added a go2 bright green caddis pupa along with a salvation nymph. The combination clicked almost immediately, and four trout occupied my net over the first hour, before I took a lunch break at 12:30PM. What a midday! Two of the landed trout were marvelous rainbow and cutbow trout in the fourteen to fifteen inch range, and they were very healthy trout as evidenced by their chunky body type.

Near the Start

Cutbow Color Scheme

I ate my lunch next to my usual lunch pool, but I failed to notice any insect activity, so I continued with the dry/dropper approach. I worked my way up the river through some enticing pocket water, and three additional rainbows joined  the fish count. Two were small and in the nine to eleven inch range, but one was a very respectable rainbow of fourteen inches. Next I reached the attractive pool below Steve’s bend pool. I cast the dry/dropper for awhile, but then I observed some very splashy rises, and a couple fish actually leaped above the surface in an effort to grab an unidentifiable food source. As I continued watching, I noted a fairly large yellowish adult bug above the surface, and I speculated that the trout were chasing yellow sallies. Off went the Chernobyl ant and the trailing nymphs and on went a size 14 yellow stimulator with a size 18 parachute black ant trailing on a six inch leader.

I executed some downstream drifts through the vicinity of the aggressive rises, and on the tenth pass I noticed a subtle swirl behind the stimulator. I quickly reacted with a hook set and found myself attached to a hard fighting brown trout. After a brief battle I lifted the battler to my net, and just as it was about to settle over the rim, it wiggled free. It saved me the trouble of releasing it, and I added it to the count to bring the total to eight.

Nice Length

For the remainder of the afternoon I walked up the river to inspect my usual favorite haunts, as I reverted to the dry/dropper with a tan pool toy hopper, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph. The pools were glassy smooth and showed no signs of rising fish, so I circled around them and focused on the faster runs, where they entered the slow moving  pools. Another factor affecting my afternoon was the presence of other anglers. One occupied the pool next to the high vertical rock wall, and another was stationed in the next wide pool situated above a pair of ninety degree bends. Since I was targeting pocketwater on this hot late spring day, I was not bothered by the presence of these two fisherman. However, when I arrived at the long stretch of pocket water above a long and wide pool, another fisherman occupied a very desirable section. I circled around him and gave him adequate space and once again began to cast the dry/dropper flies to seams and pockets among the many exposed boulders. We played hopscotch a couple times, and the other angler migrated to the west side of the river.

Deep Run

Finally in a very nice deep run over a rocky bottom a fourteen inch rainbow nabbed the salvation nymph, and I quickly played it and released it to move the fish count to nine. I felt an acute desire to land number ten and thus accomplish double digits, but my nemesis was now thirty yards above me in a prime spot. I considered once again hopping around him, but my watch was moving toward 3:30PM, and I was frustrated by the presence of the other angler, so I climbed the steep bank and hiked .8 miles down the road to the car.

Pretty Fish

I considered June 13 to be a very successful day. Nine trout in the middle of June during snow melt was very respectable, and four were rainbows in the fourteen to sixteen inch range. I was a bit surprised that all the landed fish were rainbows or cutbows, except for the one brown that managed to slide free, before I could net it. I will keep my eye on Eleven Mile Canyon for additional opportunities during June.

Fish Landed: 9

Quite a View

South Platte River – 06/07/2022

Time: 12:30PM – 4:00PM

Location: Waterton Canyon

South Platte River 06/07/2022 Photo Album

An angler that I follow on Instagram posted some photos and videos from his day on the South Platte River in Waterton Canyon on Sunday. I had been contemplating a trip to the nearby stretch of the South Platte, and his evidence of a successful day spurred me to make the trip. I checked the flows and noted 180 CFS below Strontia Springs dam and 121 CFS at Waterton. The Waterton graph displayed an increase from 81 CFS to 121 CFS within the last 38 hours, and that represented a nearly 50% increase. Large percentage increases usually cause me some concern, but even the high flows of 180 CFS in the upper three miles were encouraging compared to the blown out conditions on Colorado freestones.

Waterton Canyon

After a couple side issues I was able to depart Denver by 10:30, and this enabled me to arrive at the always busy Waterton parking lot by 11:15. I spent a more than normal amount of time preparing to fish, as I packed all the essentials in a backpack and unloaded my mountain bike from the car. I chose my Sage four weight as my fly rod for my day on the South Platte River in southwest Denver. I cycled from the Waterton parking lot to the Rattlesnake picnic pavilion, and arrived there around noon, so I immediately downed my lunch. I pulled on my waders and assembled my gear and stashed my bike and backpack out of sight behind a clump of vegetation. Once I was fully geared up, I hiked down the road for . 3 mile and then angled down a steep bank to the river. The South Platte carried a tinge of color, and it was indeed rushing along at 179 CFS. The sun was out with the occasional large cloud, and the temperature was in the upper seventies.

180 CFS

I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph, and I began prospecting all the attractive deep runs and riffles. Alas, my enthusiasm quickly waned, as no sign of fish rewarded my diligent casting efforts. I reeled up my flies after twenty minutes and climbed a steep bank and crossed the bridge. I intended to explore the gorgeous pool on the upside of the bridge, but two fishermen bearing a fly rod and spinning rod each claimed the popular pool, so I continued on the road, until I was upstream of the pair. In order to attain access to the river forty yards above them, I was forced to bash through some tight bushes, but eventually I was perched next to some very inviting pockets and runs of moderate depth. Surely this section would yield my first fish of the day.

Unfortunately my optimism was ill founded, and after another twenty minutes of intense fly fishing, my fish counter remained at zero. My mind began working overtime to solve the riddle, and I concluded that I needed to get my flies deeper in the cold and elevated flows. I removed the dry/dropper paraphernalia and replaced it with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot and the hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. On the second cast with this configuration, the split shot wedged on some rocks, and when I waded closer to inspect, I concluded that  the area was too swift and deep to attempt a close rescue. I applied direct pressure, and the line snapped. Imagine my utter disgust, when I discovered that the line broke off at the tapered leader, and I realized that I lost the strike indicator, split shot, two flies and a significant portion of my leader.

This convinced me that I should retreat to the river below the diversion, where the flows were a more manageable 121 CFS and more conducive to the dry/dropper approach. I sat down at the picnic table at the Rattlesnake Pavilion and removed my stunted leader and replaced it with a brand new nine foot version tapered to 5X. I coiled the old leader and tossed it in the bear-proof trash can next to the pavilion. Next I tied the fat Albert on my leader, so I had something to hook in the rod guide for my bicycle ride to a new location. When I retrieved my mountain bike and backpack from their hiding place, I was unable to secure the backpack on top of the Fishpond fishing backpack, so I removed the Fishpond frontpack and backpack and stuffed them in the camping backpack. My wading staff went in the side compartment, and I held my fly rod on the handlebars for the two mile downhill ride to my next chosen fishing spot.

120 CFS

Upon my arrival at an area approximately .5 mile below the diversion I positioned the bike and backpack near the top of the bank along the road, and then I found a safe spot to angle to the water. For this session I added a go2 sparkle pupa below the fat Albert and then supplemented it with a salvation nymph. Once again I began probing the likely holding spots, and finally at the tail of a narrow deep slot behind an exposed boulder, I nabbed a brown trout that barely exceeded the six inch minimum required for counting. I was on the verge of a skunking, so I shamelessly counted it.

I moved a bit upstream and tossed the dry/dropper to a fairly nondescript riffle next to the bank, and a mouth appeared, as it chomped down on the fat Albert. What a shock! I lifted my rod tip and felt myself attached to a rambunctious trout that eventually nestled in my net. It was a twelve to thirteen inch brown trout and easily the best fish of the day. Within the next fifteen minutes the fat Albert dove, and I set the hook into a ten inch brown trout. Was I poised for an extended period of success in Waterton Canyon?

Best Fish

The short answer is no. I continued fishing for another couple hours, and failed to land another fish. By 4:00PM I was bored with my lack of action, so I decided to mix things up and replaced the dry/dropper with a double dry that consisted of a peacock body hippie stomper and a size 14 olive-brown body deer hair caddis. On the very first drift over a moderate riffle, a fish smacked the hippie stomper, and I reacted with a swift rod lift; but, alas the fish streaked downstream on an angle, and the flies popped free. For the next twenty minutes I cast the double dry to some very promising areas, but the long distance release was my last connection with a trout on Tuesday, June 7.

My luck in Waterton Canyon has been lackluster during my last couple visits, and Tuesday was no different. I suspect the higher flows in the upper water had the fish hugging bottom, and I probably should have persisted with the deep nymphing approach, but the quick break off and total leader reconfiguration caused me to overreact and move. I managed a small amount of success in the area below the diversion, but I suspect the significant increase in flows caused the trout to adjust, and eating was not their primary focus. Other than a few tiny caddis, I observed no significant food source for the Waterton Canyon trout. I suspect it will be awhile, before I visit the canyon again. Cycling and carrying a backpack represent a significant amount of effort for meager results.

Fish Landed: 3

South Platte River – 05/17/2022

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/17/2022 Photo Album

When I first moved to Colorado in the early nineties, a San Juan worm and a pheasant tail nymph were nearly certain producers on the South Platte River. Since that time I strayed from the San Juan worm. When I have a bad day, my wife insists it is because I eschew the trusty worm. Could a San Juan worm still be effective on the South Platte River or other Colorado systems?

My options for fishing in Colorado rivers and streams dwindled, as I reviewed the flows upon my return from a week in Kauai. Bear Creek, Boulder Creek, the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, and the Big Thompson remained viable, even though they were on the upper border of disappearing from my possible list. The South Platte River at Lake George was trending upward at 170 CFS, when I checked the DWR graphs on Monday evening, so I decided to give it a go on Tuesday.

190 CFS

The temperature was in the upper sixties, when I arrived at my chosen pullout along the river, and the high peaked in the low seventies with very few clouds in the sky during my time on the river. Tuesday was nearly perfect from a weather perspective from an angler viewpoint. When I crossed the road to stare at the river, it appeared to be higher than I anticipated, and this eventuality was accompanied by some murkiness. Upon my return to home, I checked the flows for Tuesday, and the chart reflected a gradual climb from 170 CFS to 200 CFS during my time on the river. The increase surely explained the color, although visibility remained reasonable, as the streambed could be seen in all but the deepest pools. In addition to the turbidity I observed an abundant quantity of floating debris, and lots of fly-grabbing sticks were wedged between the rocks. I also encountered a family of tubers, but they exited above me and never became a significant nuisance.

A Start

I began my day with a dry/dropper that included a size 8 yellow fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear nymph, and an emerald caddis pupa. In the early going I landed one tiny brown trout that was too small to count and then added a ten inch brown that consumed the hares ear. When I attempted to remove the fly and release the fish, I discovered a snelled hook from another angler in the fish’s mouth, and it was too deep to remove, so I released it in the same state, as I caught it. I felt bad about this, but the fish seemed to be surviving with a hook and leader in its mouth, and I concluded that any effort to dig deep would do more harm than good.

Decent for This Section of River

After a fifteen minute dry spell I exchanged the caddis pupa for a black, beaded mini leech. The leech generated no luck, so I made another switch to a pink San Juan worm in combination with the hares ear. Ka-ching! The San Juan worm clicked and remained on my line over the remainder of the day. By lunch at noon my fish count rested on five, with four brown trout grabbing the San Juan worm, and one brown favoring the hares ear, as explained earlier.

The Worm Was Desired

After lunch I made an overzealous cast and broke off all three flies that comprised the dry/dropper. The flies remained on an island two-thirds of the way across the river, and I was unable to wade into a position to recover them, so I made a mental note of the prominent characteristics of the island and planned to resume a search, once I crossed to the other side at a manageable crossing point.

I used the break off as an opportunity to experiment with a nymphing rig. Early afternoon was blue winged olive hatch time, so I constructed my offering with the pink San Juan worm and a sparkle wing RS2 along with a split shot and New Zealand strike indicator. The nymph set up remained in place for the remainder of my time on the water, and the fish count steadily climbed from five to twelve. During the course of the day the pink San Juan worm accounted for eight trout; the hares ear one, an orange scud fooled one; and a salvation nymph finished out the day with two. A baetis hatch never materialized, and the RS2 was ignored.

Different Lighting

When I reached the area just below Happy Meadows, I reversed direction and crossed the river just above the island, that I planned to search for my flies. I almost forgot and walked a short distance beyond, but then I remembered and descended to the river and crossed a small side channel to reach the small island. I paced fifteen steps to the downstream side and almost immediately spotted the yellow fat Albert and recovered all three flies.

On my way back to the car I stopped to fish some pocket water along the side of the river that bordered the road, and I snagged a large branch. I attempted to leverage the branch within my grasp, but my line broke, and I lost a pink San Juan worm and orange scud. You win some, and you lose some.

Another Respectable Brown

The lost fly incident caused me to retreat to the car, and I drove down the road for .5 mile and parked in a wide pullout next to a high bank above the river. I hiked down the road a short distance and then cut back to the river and worked my way back to the car while drifting a flesh colored San Juan worm and salvation nymph. The salvation fooled one brown trout, and a thirteen inch brown chomped the worm, as it dangled in the current at the bottom of a run,

At 3:30 I reached the upper end of the desirable water in this area, and I decided to quit for the day. I landed twelve decent brown trout on Tuesday, but the fly fishing could not be considered hot. My catch rate was just over two fish per hour, and I considered that average. Nevertheless, I was proud of my persistence and willingness to flex with the conditions to deep nymphing with a San Juan worm. Clearly the rising flows scoured the banks and propelled aquatic worms and earthworms into the river. Over twenty-five years after my love affair with the San Juan worm on the South Platte River, I experienced a revival, and I will not be reluctant to knot a worm to my line, should I once again encounter off-colored water.

Fish Landed: 12

South Platte River – 05/03/2022

Time: 11:15AM – 4:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/03/2022 Photo Album

I experienced an exceptional day of fishing last Wednesday, April 27, and I was anxious to make a return to the South Platte River, but I also had my eye on the Arkansas River. The caddis hatch began its progression up the canyon, and this suggested the possibility of a double dip with both blue winged olives and caddis on the menu. As a first step to make my destination decision, I checked the weather, and the wind velocity in Salida was forecast to strike speeds in excess of 20 MPH on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Eleven Mile Canyon was somewhat better with speeds of 14 – 16 MPH in the afternoon. I gambled that I could tolerate the wind in Eleven Mile; and, furthermore relatively heavy cloud cover was predicted from 3:00PM until the evening. Perhaps these conditions would spur another baetis hatch similar to that which entertained me on April 27. I decided to make the trip.

Although my day on the previous Wednesday was outstanding, there was a period just prior to the brief rain storm, when my CDC BWO was not effective. The trout seemed to favor very active naturals, as the wind tumbled the tiny mayflies across the surface of the river. This experience motivated me to tie five new flies on Monday afternoon in an effort to be prepared for high wind and picky trout. In addition to my normal recipe of a CDC comparadun style wing, microfibbet tails, and olive dubbed body and thorax; I added a very small dun hackle wound around the hook shank before and after the wing. I inserted all five of the new flies into my fly box on Monday evening in preparation for Tuesday’s trip. Did they work? Read on.

Perched on Hackles

I arrived at my chosen location high above the South Platte River by 11:00AM, and I immediately pulled on my North Face light down coat. The air temperature at the start was in the low fifties, but the high was projected to reach sixty, so I proceeded with one layer. I assembled my Sage One five weight with the expectation of above average fish and strong winds in the afternoon. I hiked along the dirt road for .4 mile and dropped into the canyon on a short steep trail in order to arrive at the first pool. I named this pool lunch pool, as I typically rest along side the short deep area to eat my lunch.

Tail of This Pool Produced a Brown Trout in the Early Going

Early Dry Fly Action

In my mind I was debating whether to rig with a strike indicator and nymphs or to deploy a dry/dropper, when several subtle rises at the very tail of the run aroused my curiosity. Could blue winged olives be hatching this early under clear bright blue skies? I decided to find out, and I knotted a size 20 CDC BWO to my 4X tippet. I was hesitant to extend the leader with 5X, in case I decided to return to the dry/dropper approach in short order. The move proved to be a winner, and I landed two trout in the first half hour on the CDC BWO. A brown trout sipped the BWO imitation from the very tail of the run, where it began to curl toward the shoreline to form an eddy. The second netted fish was a fourteen inch rainbow, and it darted to the surface from the deepest spot in the eddy to ingest the CDC BWO. I broke for lunch at 11:45AM with two nice trout notched on the fish counter. I observed the pool during lunch, and a few sporadic rises resumed in the tail and eddy, so I returned to the scene of my morning success. Alas, in spite of some focused fishing, I was unable to recreate the magic, and I decided to modify my approach.

CDC BWO Sipper

The upper section of the pool was characterized by a long faster moving riffle, and I was skeptical that the minute single dry fly would function as a prospecting weapon, so I reconfigured with a size 8 yellow fat Albert, beadhead sparkle wing RS2 and a non-beadhead soft hackle emerger. I created a fairly short dropper system, as I suspected that the fish were hovering just beneath the surface looking for active nymphs and emergers. My thought process was sound, but the dry/dropper approach was a huge dud, and I moved up the river to the next inviting pool. Two other anglers were present during my morning efforts, during lunch and during the short window thereafter; but as I approached the long smooth pool, I was pleased to discover that it was vacant. I immediately claimed the extreme upstream section, where the main current split around a large exposed rock, and I covered the entry runs thoroughly with the BWO nymph and wet fly. The trout ignored my offerings, and I concluded that my theories were not applicable on May 3.

The Big, Long Pool

As the trout taught me this lesson, I began to observe some sporadic rises through the center of the pool, where the twin currents merged and then fanned out to the slow moving tail. I removed my dry/dropper system and tied on another CDC BWO. The pace of rises never accelerated beyond sporadic in the bright sunshine, but when I noticed a rise and placed a drift over the feeding spot, I was able to hook and land three mid-sized brown trout.

Afternoon Catch

For the remainder of the afternoon I visited three additional pools and upped the fish count from five to fourteen. Wednesday’s fly fishing adventure was quite different from April 27, when I enjoyed dense hatches in waves that brought large numbers of ravenously feeding trout to the surface. On Tuesday, the wind would kick up, and this in turn sparked a very sparse hatch and sporadic rises. I made a huge quantity of casts and covered a ton of real estate to carve out a very satisfying day on the South Platte River.

Respectable

My next pool was the one below Steve’s pool, where the strong main current runs along the eastern bank and then deflects off a huge boulder with a vertical side. I managed to land two from this location on downstream drifts, and I replaced the soggy CDC BWO with one of my new hackled CDC BWO’s. It worked for one fish, before I hooked another that felt heavier than the previous catches, but this fish made a sudden turn and snapped off my new creation.

Riser Tight to the Rock

One angler occupied Steve’s pool, so I waded around the bend and passed the narrow island to investigate the slow and smooth pool along the left bank above the island. Another fisherman beat me to it, so I moved above him and spotted some nice feeders on my side of the river. I managed to land a nice brown trout and connected briefly with another pair, before I moved on. My next stop was another gorgeous pool that spread out around some exposed boulders and then made a wide smooth tail section. I headed immediately to the deep entering currents, and I paused to observe for awhile. The sun was out, and the air was relatively dead, but I was able to spot two very subtle dimples along a current seam, and these observations translated into two nice rainbow trout in the thirteen and fourteen inch range. I now achieved double digits, and I was pleased with my day regardless of what the future offered.

A Rainbow Was Off the point of the Rock on the Right

Another Hungry Rainbow

The next area consisted of pocket water, and I was seeking slow, smooth pools in order to pick off BWO surface feeders, so I reversed direction and returned to the scene of much success on April 19. This was also the area occupied by another angler earlier, as I approached from below. I carefully waded into position from the western bank and stood in relatively shallow water with a nice sandy bottom. As I suspected, trout were dimpling the surface throughout the twenty-five yard long pool. By now, as predicted, the cloud cover thickened, and the light diminished, and the wind kicked up. My feet were migrating into frozen stumps, and a slight chill invaded my body. I began lobbing casts to the feeding lanes, where trout revealed their positions via greedy rises, but my low riding CDC BWO was mostly ignored. After a large number of casts, I finally connected with a fine trout to move the fish count to eleven, but the number of feeding fish compared to my single success suggested that I had not solved the feeding riddle.

Deep Colors on This Beauty

I paused to assess and realized that these were the very conditions that I attempted to solve with my hackled CDC olives. I plucked one from my fly box and knotted it to my 5X tippet and resumed casting. Although I continued to experience my fair share of futility in the form of looks and refusals, I did hook and land three very nice fish on the hackled BWO. The hackles enabled the fly to ride higher on the surface of the river, and to my angler eye, it more closely resembled the natural baetis that tumbled and bounced along the surface in the face of the strong gusts of wind. In one instance, I twitched the fly with a jerky mend, and one of the landed trout responded with a quick eat.

Thick Brown Trout

Although Tuesday, May 3 yielded fewer trout, and the quality of the hatch was inferior to April 27, I still rated the day as excellent. Success required patience, persistence and keen observation. Downstream casting and mending skills were a necessity, and frequent drying and application of floatant were keys to success. The most gratifying aspect of the day was my ability to utilize my new hackled CDC BWO fly to fool and land three very fine trout in the last hour of the day. I will certainly tie more.

Fish Landed: 14

South Platte River – 04/27/2022

Time: 10:45AM – 4:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/27/2022 Photo Album

After catching seven tiny brown trout from Boulder Creek on Monday, I was itching for some more substantial quarry on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. I considered the Arkansas River, and the forecast temperatures were to my liking in the upper sixty degrees, but the wind velocity in the afternoon was projected over 20 MPH. The South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon was my second choice, and the wind speeds there were more tolerable in the low to mid teens, but the high temperature was expected to be in the low sixties. I have endured colder days than that in the canyon, so I made Eleven Mile my destination. The other weather factor that caught my attention was heavy clouds for most of the afternoon. In my mind this suggested blue winged olive mayflies.

I departed Denver at 7:35AM and arrived at my target pullout by 10:15AM. Initially I pulled on my fleece cardigan and North Face light down coat with the temperature at 50 degrees, but I felt too warm and shed the light down. I reasoned that I could always pull my raincoat out of my backpack for a windbreaker layer, if I got too cold. My rod of choice was my Sage One five weight. I hiked up the road for .3 mile, until I found a reasonably manageable path down the steep bank from the road to the river. My starting point consisted of a series of deep pockets around exposed boulders, and the flows were a nice 125 CFS. I rigged my five weight with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, ultra zug bug and RS2 and began prospecting all the slower moving but deep spots around the boulders. During this early time period I landed a very nice rainbow trout of approximately fourteen inches and a small brown trout. The rainbow snatched the RS2, and the brown grabbed the ultra zug bug.

Ready for Freedom

The rest of my day could be described as the tale of three pools. The next nice pool above the pocket water was my typical break point for lunch, but I arrived earlier than usual because of my 10:45 starting time. I worked my nymphs thoroughly through both sides of the deep run, but I was unable interest any residents in my offerings. This was abnormal, as I can usually count on a fish or two from the lunch pool area. I swapped the ultra zug bug for a beadhead black mini leech and replaced the RS2 with a sparkle wing version. The move failed to change my luck, and I progressed to the next pool, which is one of my favorites on the river. It is quite long, and the main current splits around a large exposed rock at the head of the pool, before it fans out in the center area. The bottom half is a wide and deep, smooth pool. I positioned myself next to the upper and middle section and sat down to consume my lunch. When I called my day the story of three pools, this one was number one.

Off the Point of That Rock Produced

As I ate my lunch , I spotted numerous rises around the head of the pool and continuing down to the midsection. My pace of chewing elevated, and I skipped my yogurt in my zeal to fool eagerly feeding trout. Just as I was beginning to cast a CDC BWO, an older couple arrived , and the man motioned to me asking for permission to fish the tail of the pool. I gave him a thumbs up, but I wondered why he could not find another spot given the relatively light presence of anglers on a Wednesday.

Lovely Markings

Initially the preponderance of rising trout ignored my CDC BWO, so I switched to a Klnkhammer emerger, and it clicked for three twelve inch brown trout, but the trout’s teeth cut the delicate parachute hackle on two flies, so I switched to a new CDC BWO with a thicker CDC wing than the first fly I tried. I was concerned that I would quickly deplete my supply of four Klinkhammer emergers. The CDC BWO with the thicker wing did the trick, and I landed seven more trout from the long pool, while Bruce and Sandy looked on.

Long and Sleek

Number ten was memorable, as I spotted several subtle rises off the point of the large exposed rock that split the incoming current. I dropped several casts off the point, and on the third attempt a fine fourteen inch brown trout slurped the CDC olive. The take was very visual and very gratifying after discerning the subtle rises.

The sun appeared and the frequency of rising trout waned, so I decided to abandon the long pool and seek other opportunities. I was interested to know whether the olives were emerging in other spots throughout the South Platte system in Eleven Mile. I walked back to Bruce and Sandy and relinquished the pool to them. I intended to inspect Steve’s pool, the pool on a ninety degree bend below the tunnel, but first I came to a smaller pool just below Steve’s with a large rock wall along the east side. I crossed the river below this point and paused to observe, while two anglers occupied Steve’s. Quite a few rises appeared throughout the length of the pool, so I decided to approach from the west side with across and downstream drifts. This was pool number two of my day of three pools.

Rises Tight to the Rock Wall

Feeding Trout Along the Opposite Bank

My approach paid dividends, as I landed five additional brown trout to boost the fish count to fifteen. In this pool my conversion rate suffered compared to that of pool one, as each fish landed required a far greater number of casts, but persistence paid off.  During this time the wind kicked up, and the sky darkened, and two of my takes occurred as I twitched the fly with a bad mend, or drag set in near the downstream extension of the drift. The mayflies by now were emerging in fairly dense quantities, but they tumbled and skipped along the surface as a result of the frequent gusts. My casting and disturbance of the water with thrashing fish eventually put down the pool residents except for some cagey veterans along the rocky shoreline on the opposite bank, so I waded up the river to Steve’s pool.

Hungry

In a stroke of good fortune the two occupants of Steve’s pool reeled up their flies and abandoned the gem of Eleven Mile, thus leaving it vacant for this eager angler. By now the sky darkened even more than previously, and the wind velocity accelerated, and my wet hands from releasing fish in pool two stung from the rapid evaporation. I moved to the riffles at the entry point to the pool, and the river came alive with rising fish. I could easily see twenty fish within my range, as they rapidly darted to the surface to snatch helpless blue winged olive victims. I made some nice downstream drifts and managed to land four trout during this time frame, but my success rate was actually rather poor given the feeding binge that transpired on my side of the pool. Looks and refusals far outnumbered takes, as my stagnant fly was one among the hundreds that blanketed the river. As this event unfolded, rain began to fall, so I had to retreat to the bank, where I removed my front pack, backpack and camera and pulled on my raincoat. The temperature dropped ten degrees, and I chastised myself for forsaking the North Face down coat.

Very Fine Fish

Eventually the electricity of the dense hatch subsided, the rain stopped and the dark cloud moved to the east. The nearby area that was a sea of frothing rises suddenly appeared to be vacant of trout with only a few very sporadic feeders through the long and wide pool. My feet were frozen stumps, my hands were gnarled and stinging, and a chill ran up and down my spine. I decided to call it quits and wandered to the tail of the pool to begin my crossing to the east side next to the road. Before I stepped in the river; however, I gazed across the extreme tail and spotted a pair of rises in fairly shallow water. Could I tease up one of these feeders?

On Display. Golden Coloring

Fat

I waded into the river a few feet and launched a relatively long cast toward a feeding lane near the opposite shoreline. I could see the silhouette of the feeder, and on the fifth drift, much to my amazement, the fish tipped up and sipped my CDC wing blue winged olive. I struck quickly and battled a fifteen inch brown trout to my net. I used my curled fingers to complete the wing drying process and once again placed a cast above a sighted fish, and again my target elevated and sipped in the fraud. This cycle repeated itself six times, before I eventually crossed the river and ended my day. What an ending! The last six trout of the day from the shallow tail area were the largest and hardest fighters. A chunky fourteen inch rainbow was among the six as well as two fifteen inch browns and three thirteen inch brown trout. Even now, a day later, I am in awe of my last hour of fishing.

Hefty

Wednesday was easily my best day of fly fishing in 2022. Twenty-five landed fish in 5.5 hours of fishing represents a better than average catch rate, and the surge of wild beauties in the last hour was icing on the cake. If one were to ask me to describe a perfect blue winged olive day, Wednesday, April 27 would be my model. Twenty-three of my catch sipped BWO dry fly imitations. and this made the day even more gratifying. The most challenging period occurred during the prelude to the storm, when mayflies appeared in blizzard quantities. During this time my ratio of casts to conversions was very high, so I still need to find a solution. Much of this frustration stems from the sheer number of naturals compared to my solitary offering, but I also think wind and motion are a factor. My fly dead drifts, while the surrounding naturals flutter and bounce and clumsily attempt to get airborne. I continue to believe that some size 20 or 22 flies with conventional hackles around the hook shank might portray motion better than my slender no hackles. Stay tuned, as I continue to unravel the mysteries of the BWO hatch.

Fish Landed 25

South Platte River – 04/19/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/19/2022 Photo Album

Dry flies and spring weather were in my plans for Tuesday, April 19, 2022. Was I able to achieve my goal? Stay tuned.

After a pleasant day of fly fishing on the Big Thompson River on Monday, I decided to undertake my first back to back of the 2022 season. For my second day of fishing I was open to a longer drive to either the Arkansas River or South Platte River, as I desired a shot at larger fish than the modest fish that occupied my net during recent trips to Clear Creek and the Big Thompson. As has been the case this spring, my decision hinged largely on weather; and, more specifically, the wind. The projected wind velocities for Lake George were in the low teens during the afternoon; whereas, wind speeds peaked in the upper teens on the Arkansas River near Salida. My last trip to Eleven Mile Canyon on April 8 was a disappointment with only one fish landed, but I convinced myself that warmer temperatures and the chance for some cloud cover translated to a higher probability of a stronger blue winged olive hatch. Would the anticipated hatch develop? One again, read on. This trip was also a solo venture, and this provided the latitude to choose my favorite haunts rather than compromising with the leanings of a fly fishing partner.

I managed to arrive at a wide pullout in the middle section of the special regulation water by 10:30AM, and this enabled me to position myself next to some nice pocket water in ready mode by 11:00AM. I wore a long sleeved thermal undershirt and my light down coat to start, and I never shed layers, although I was a bit warm several times, when the sun persisted for an extended time period. My Sage One five weight was the weapon of choice to combat the likelihood of high winds, and in case I tangled with a larger than average trout.

Lead Off Rainbow

Between 11AM and 1PM I prospected pockets and runs at the head of pools with a nymph rig that included a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug. During the first two hours I guided two fish to my net including a fourteen inch rainbow and a thirteen inch brown trout. After an unproductive twenty minutes I replaced the ultra zug bug with an RS2 and later a sparkle wing RS2, and the rainbow nabbed the RS2, while the brown trout fell for the sparkle wing. I also experimented with a size 14 prince nymph and a beadhead black mini leech during this time. The presence of other anglers forced me to circle around three prime pools, as I made my way up the river.

Not Sure How or When This Happened

By 1PM I advanced beyond the popular bend pool that I named Steve’s pool after my friend Steve Supple. I covered the right braid around a small narrow island, and I was drifting my nymphs through a deep pocket to no avail, when a spin fisherman twenty yards above me on the left bank signaled that I should move to his location. I gave him a thumbs up, and after he ascended the steep bank to the road, I cautiously waded to a spot in the middle of the river directly across from where he motioned me. My stealth was rewarded, as I observed numerous rising trout in a long section of slow moving smooth water twenty-five feet away from my position in the middle of the river. I observed for a short while, and then I removed my nymphing paraphernalia and knotted a size 20 CDC BWO to my line. My hands were shaking from anticipation, as I struggled to remove the single split shot that would not come undone.

Most of My Success Was Here

Finally the small comparadun style dry fly was in place and attached to an extension of 5X leader, and I began to toss casts to the nearest portion of the pool and above three rising trout. Smack! A fifteen inch rainbow sipped in the CDC BWO with confidence on the second drift, and I managed to thwart its escape efforts and scooped it into my net. For the next two hours I remained in this spot and hooked and landed an additional six trout ranging in size from twelve to fifteen inches. I covered the length of the thirty yard long pool, and I executed a significant number of casts. Many were fruitless, but enough duped trout to make the day my best of 2022 so far. The baetis were plentiful, and it seemed that the fish fed in waves. The most intense feeding seemed to follow gusts of wind, and I surmised that the air movement knocked the tiny mayflies to the surface thus spurring easy snacks for the resident trout.

BWO Eater

Nearly all my landed fish resulted from downstream drifts, as the flies passed over the feeding lane ahead of the leader. I repeated my routine of sopping moisture from the fly against my down coat sleeve, then dipping the fly in desiccant followed by vigorous shaking. The next step included some robust wing fluffing and then the application of a minimal amount of floatant to the body. On the few occasions when I skipped one of these steps, the fish seemed to ignore my offering! Pretty regimented, don’t you think?

Fine Ink Spot Brown Trout

Lovely Rainbow

By 2:45PM the number of rises became quite sporadic, so I advanced up the river through a narrow section with a high rock wall along the east bank. I remembered a nice long smooth pool above the narrow section, but as I approached, I spotted another angler. I reversed my direction and returned to my earlier focal point once again, but the number of rising fish shrank to a few, and they ignored my offering, so I moved to the Steve pool. By now the pool was vacated, so I paused and observed for an extended amount of time hoping to spot some rises to straggling blue winged olives. Finally after three or four minutes a fish showed in some nervous water near the center of the pool, and I dropped a few casts in the vicinity. On one of the drifts I noticed a subtle splash and set the hook, and this resulted in a split second connection with a small fish. After this brief exchange with action, the pool remained devoid of signs of fish, so I hooked my fly in the guide and scrambled up the steep bank to the road. The return hike was .6 mile.

Second Look

Tuesday was just what the doctor ordered. Nine fish landed with seven sipping the small blue winged olive imitation. Nearly all the fish were in the twelve to fifteen inch range, and catching  respectable trout on size 20 dry flies is always a challenge and very rewarding, if one can succeed. I have experienced more trout during a day of fishing, but the size and preference for dries is what set this day apart from the others so far. I will continue to look for overcast skies and another opportunity to make the trek to Eleven Mile Canyon before the snow melt elevates river levels.

Fish Landed: 9

South Platte River – 04/08/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/08/2022 Photo Album

After a rough day on the South Platte River on April 4, I decided to redeem myself with a trip to a different section of the same river on April 8, 2022. The flows in Eleven Mile Canyon were 115 CFS, and the high temperature was projected to be 59 degrees with single digit wind speeds. I learned to always check wind speeds when planning spring fly fishing trips.

I contacted my fishing friend, Steve, and I picked him up at 9AM and then continued the drive to the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. As we entered the canyon, we noted that the access fee was raised to $8. Much to our chagrin most of the pullouts were filled with cars, and this was particularly the case, when we arrived at the last .5 mile below  the dam. In spite of this crowding we found some open spaces in a dirt lot below the last bridge before the dam. We quickly climbed into our waders and prepared to fish. I wore my North Face light down coat and billed New Zealand hat with ear flaps, and I assembled my Sage One five weight to counteract wind and with the hope of tangling with larger than average fish.

Steve crossed the road and walked upstream along the left side of the river, while I strode along the gated dirt road that leads to a campground on the right side. I wandered to the large ninety degree bend, and five fishermen were spaced out strategically leaving me no space to begin my day. I retreated to the bridge and noticed that an angler had vacated the west bank below the bridge, so I ambled along a path for fifty yards and then dropped to the river.

After Lunch Section

The river was extremely clear and flowing along at 115 CFS, so I opted for a peacock hippie stomper, RS2 and zebra midge. I was seeking some sink, but I wanted to avoid a large plop such as that created by a large foam fly or large beadhead nymphs.

As I began casting, I easily spotted large fish, as they held their positions along the bottom particularly in deep troughs. I made long casts and drifted the flies through the lanes, but the trout totally ignored my offerings. I slowly migrated up the river along the left bank and executed long casts to gain natural drifts, but my caution and stealth were to no avail. I removed the zebra midge after a reasonable test period and replaced it with a soft hackle emerger, but the move caused no change in my fishless status. In another desperate move to fool trout I devoted twenty minutes to a configuration that included a gray scud, but, again the fish would not cooperate. The wind  gusted occasionally, and I failed to observe any insects other than a few random midges.

Steve Below the Bridge

By 12:30PM I arrived at the nice deep riffles just below the outflow from the large pipes that comprise the bridge. The faster water and deep seams elevated my optimism, and I began prospecting the likely fish lies, while I keenly observed the water. Suddenly a decent rainbow trout materialized in a two foot section of slack water no more than five feet in front of me. I began lobbing casts to the seam just below the left-most pipe, and this enabled the hippie stomper and baetis imitations to drift toward me and over the observed fish, as it held at an angle, where the current dumped sources of food. On the fifth drift I lifted the rod to make another cast, and I felt weight for a split second, but that was all. I stripped in my line and discovered that both subsurface flies were missing. I will never know if I hooked a fish that broke me off, or whether I snagged and broke off a bad knot on the lift.

Steve appeared on the bridge above me, so we ambled back to the car and ate our lunches from the tailgate. After lunch Steve returned to his favorite spot twenty yards above the bridge along the left side, but I decided to explore the area below the bridge. I followed a well worn path that led me through some shrubs, and I eventually cut directly to the river. A long section of river appeared to be vacant, so I made this my afternoon haunt. I replaced the broken off flies with a beadhead hares ear nymph trailing a sparkle wing RS2, and I began to search for signs of fish life. The river was wide and relatively shallow, so I waded upstream for a bit, until I found a delightful deep area, where the main current flowed around some large exposed rocks. I began covering the lower section with the dry/dropper, but as I did so, I became aware of some rises in the sweet spot, where the river troughed between the large rocks. I continued with my dry/dropper search, but after five minutes the rises became more frequent, so I decided to alter my approach. I removed the two nymphs and extended a 5X leader from the bend of the hippie stomper for eight inches, and then I tied on a size 20 CDC BWO. I also observed a few blue winged olive naturals, as the wind skittered them across the surface.

Nice Chunk

When I was properly rigged, I made some false casts and dropped the double dry fly combination to the right of the center cut deep area, and my optimism was met with a resounding thud. I decided to cut to the chase, and placed a second cast in the heart of the sweet spot, and after a one foot drift, a fish nosed up and inhaled the CDC BWO. Whoosh! I set the hook and felt the instant throb of a nice fish. Fortunately I had my five weight, and I quickly muscled the streamlined rainbow trout to my net and carefully stepped to the shoreline to capture a video and some photos. The fish in my possession was easily the largest that I landed in 2022. I kept it in the water for the entire camera session and then allowed it to zip away in apparent good health.

The sparse hatch continued for another thirty minutes, but I was unable to fool additional South Platte River trout. I tried adding a soft hackle emerger behind the CDC BWO, and then I replaced both flies with a Klinkhammer emerger. None of these ploys resulted in success, so I reverted to a different CDC BWO. The fish in the area resumed feeding in two or three waves, but the surface action never approached that of the initial period that caught my attention. It seemed that the fish resumed feeding, when the wind kicked up and knocked the tiny mayflies in the water. I was quite pleased to land the fine rainbow and eliminate my skunking, but I must admit disappointment with my inability to fool additional trout in the area. I suspect that at least five or six fish dimpled the surface at one time or the other, while I was present.

Heading to Shore

Finally I abandoned the prime area and moved upstream only to encounter another fisherman. I circled around him and once again rendezvoused with the river and found Steve in the area below the pipes. He was doing nothing, so I convinced him to return to the scene of my success, and within five minutes we were once again perched next to the deep runs that swirled around some exposed boulders. I suggested that Steve cast to the prime center section, while I waded downstream a bit to investigate additional real estate. My exploration was fruitless, and I slowly waded back to Steve’s position. Just as I approached him from below, I noticed a swirl at the lower section, and as I looked on, Steve placed a nice cast to the area, and before I could utter nice, he set the hook and his rod bowed. Needless to say my fishing partner was a happy camper, as he scooped a respectable South Platte rainbow trout into his net.

The blue winged olive hatch waned, and neither of us could entice additional trout to our nets. My watch registered 3PM, so I suggested we head back to the car to prepare for the return trip, and Steve eagerly agreed. Once again the South Platte River served up a difficult day. I was extremely thankful for my one robust trout, and I am now in a quandary over how to reignite the 2022 fishing season. During both my days on the South Platte River I endured bright sunshine and clear blue skies with fairly strong wind. I am currently considering a trip on a day with forecast cloud cover with the hope that a denser hatch of baetis would result in improved fishing success.

Fish Landed: 1

South Platte River – 04/04/2022

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Deckers

South Platte River 04/04/2022 Photo Album

A skunking or tough day on the river builds character. If that is the case, my character was enhanced greatly by today’s 3.5 hours of fly fishing. I suspect that if I were to count my worst outings over the last ten years, a high percentage resulted from a trip to the South Platte River downstream from Deckers, CO. In spite of my lack of success, the density of fishermen remains above average, and I am continually baffled by this circumstance. Perhaps I choose the wrong times to fish there, or maybe I am prospecting in unproductive locations, but my results do not merit the hordes of anglers that frequent this popular destination.

Focused on a Straggler

With high winds in the forecast for Tuesday and a skiing trip on the schedule for Wednesday I decided to take advantage of a promising weather forecast on Monday, April 4, 2022. I left my house in Denver at 9:00AM, and this enabled me to arrive at my chosen dirt parking lot along the South Platte River by 10:40AM. I quickly pulled on my waders, donned my fleece cardigan, and assembled my Sage four weight; and I was ready for action. I hiked along the road for .2 miles and then dropped down a moderately steep path to begin my quest for trout. I rigged initially with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead black mini leech, and salvation nymph; and within the first thirty minutes I landed an eight inch rainbow trout and experienced a refusal that resulted in a temporary foul hook. My optimism soared with this early interaction with South Platte River trout.

My One and Only

Unfortunately this pretty much summed up my body of success on Monday. During the afternoon at approximately 1:00PM, I connected very briefly with another trout, but it quickly turned its head and slipped the hook thus prompting some phrases that should not be repeated here. That was the sum total of my action on Monday, April 4.

I fished a dry/dropper in the early going as described above, but before lunch I switched to a nymphing set up with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, beadhead salvation nymph and sparkle wing RS2. This approach was a reaction to my belief that I needed to get my flies deeper particularly in locations with deep pockets and seams. I carefully observed the places of moderate depth that I approached, as I attempted to sight fish, but I never spotted a target. This is what caused me to surmise that the trout were hugging bottom in deep troughs and seams.

Pretty Spot

After lunch I prospected the section of the river that sluiced through some massive boulders, and it was here that I generated a very brief temporary connection with a trout.  When I reached the next parking lot, I decided to return to the car, and I moved it upstream another .3 miles, and then I returned to a point just above my earlier exit. Another fisherman occupied my desired space, so I cut in fifty yards above him to fish a very attractive section of moderate depth and medium current velocity over a large boulder strewn bottom. I elevated my focus in anticipation of some action; but, alas, a barrage of futile casting was my unfortunate outcome. This section produced some fine brown trout and a nice blue winged olive hatch during a trip in May of 2021.  During Monday’s visit to to this favorite section of the South Platte I noticed a very sparse emergence of blue winged olives, but the total number of sighted mayflies was less than ten, and not enough to prompt any surface feeding. I was convinced that my RS2 would draw interest, but that never became a reality.

Switched Back to Dry/Dropper Here

For the last forty-five minutes I reverted to the fat Albert and my PM trailers were a beadhead hares ear nymph and a classic RS2. I tossed this combination for awhile, and eventually exchanged the hares ear for a size 12 prince with the hope of gaining more depth, but once again my fishing theories proved without merit. I lacked confidence and was quite bored by 2:30PM, and with the car parked only twenty yards away, I executed an exit strategy and called it a day.

During the course of the day I tested the yellow fat Albert, black mini leech, salvation nymph, sparkle wing RS2, ultra zug bug, hares ear nymph, flesh colored San Juan worm, prince nymph and classic RS2. Only the salvation nymph produced, the fat Albert induced a refusal, and I suspect the temporary hook up was attributed to the RS2.

The high temperature rose to the low sixties, and wind was essentially a nonfactor. It was a great day for humans but apparently not to the liking of the South Platte River finned residents. Of course, I built character and hopefully this will serve me well during future difficult outings in 2022.

Fish Landed: 1