Category Archives: South Platte River

South Platte River – 05/26/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Downstream from Deckers

South Platte River 05/26/2021 Photo Album

I was encouraged by my visit to the South Platte River in the Deckers area on 05/17/2021 and anxious to schedule a reengagement. A cool day on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 with lots of cloud cover made a second trip to the South Platte River below Deckers a reality. Flows were a moderate 110 CFS, and an Instagram photo from someone I follow revealed some discoloration, although it was not enough to cancel my plans. I arrived at a sanctioned parking lot at 10:30AM, and after I set up my Sage four weight and walked along the road for a tenth of a mile, I was perched on the edge of the river prepared to fly fish. The flows were ideal from my perspective, and as shown on the Instagram photo, there was a slight stain, which was actually favorable for approaching trout.

Lunch View from the Tip of an Island

I debated whether to utilize an indicator system, but after careful consideration I adopted my standard dry/dropper configuration. I began with a tan pool toy hopper and trailed a salvation nymph and classic RS2. Between 11:00AM and noon I was unable to hook and land a fish, although I did experience a momentary connection to one of the nymphs and two swirls to the hopper. After lunch I removed my raincoat and stuffed it in my backpack, as the air temperature rose to comfortable levels, although the sun continued to be an intermittent presence.

Deep Water Beyond Gravel Bar Looks Encouraging

My slump continued for the thirty minutes after lunch, but then a fifteen inch brown trout assaulted the RS2, as I began to lift at the tail of a drift in front of a large exposed boulder. Earlier thoughts of a skunking penetrated my thought waves, so I was very pleased to tally a notch on the fish counter. After I photographed and released the much appreciated brown trout, I continued upriver in a renewed state of optimism; however. another hour elapsed with nothing to show for my diligent effort. I began changing the bottom fly and cycled through a hares ear nymph and orange scud. At one point I noticed two spaced out rises, so I shifted my approach to a double dry. I kept the pool toy hopper in place and added a soft hackle emerger without a bead. The soft hackle generated a refusal, but that was the extent of the double dry fly response.

Number One Was a Stunner

The absence of additional surface activity caused me to revert to the dry/dropper method; however, I replaced the pool toy hopper with a peacock hippie stomper and knotted a go2 bright green caddis pupa below it and followed the caddis pupa with a classic RS2. Surely the bright caddis would attract some afternoon interest. I was correct in this assumption, as a chunky thirteen inch rainbow smacked the go2 caddis around 1:30PM. The hard fighting rainbow might have been a stocked fish, but I was pleased with it nonetheless.

Decent Rainbow Trout on Go2 Caddis Pupa

Some large gray clouds moved into the area for most of the remainder of the afternoon, and I spotted the occasional blue winged olive, as they flitted up from the river. The fish count paused on two for a lengthy period of time, and I was fairly certain that I would return home and record that number on the analytics page of this blog.

I persisted, however, and I struggled to find some commonality with the type of river structure that provided success. Of course, it was difficult to ascertain a pattern, when only two trout succumbed to my search. By 2:30 the low light and wind seemed to induce some baetis activity, as the RS2 became popular. In a large pocket along the right bank, a relatively slow current flowed over moderate depth, and three brown trout less than twelve inches nabbed the RS2. In each case I made an upstream cast, and the hippie stomper paused briefly, before I lifted the rod tip and realized I was attached to a spunky fish. During this time frame I also experienced three or four temporary connections, and these instances seemed to result from a lift or strip near the end of the drift.

Lots of Spots

By 3PM I had covered quite a bit of South Platte real estate, and I was approaching a pullout occupied by several vehicles, so I crossed the river and climbed a short, steep bank and hiked back to the car. When I reached the Santa Fe, I thought about the fish that I hooked near the beginning of my day and the two refusals, and I decided to revisit the same spot. I remembered that the river reflected off a long rock along the far bank, and the current cut a deep trough, as it gouged gravel with the accelerating flow. I quickly found the spot and waded into position, so that I could execute an across stream cast such that the hippie stomper and two nymphs drifted through the natural funnel along the rock.

Point of Attack Was Next to Exposed Rock Along the Bank

On the third drift, as the hippie stomper neared the downstream end of the long rock, I spotted a dip and reacted with a swift hook set. Wow! I felt heavy vibrating weight, as the live object on the end of my line executed several headshaking dives. I gained some line with a couple strips, but then the fighter raced downstream below an exposed rock, and I released at least ten feet of line, before the aquatic warrior stopped. Once again I stripped line and gained the upper hand on a sixteen inch brown trout, which I scooped into my net, while my heart rate elevated to excitement levels. The lanky trout was not happy, and it squirmed and splashed in an effort to free itself from the rubber net. I took a video and snapped a few photos and then gently released the river resident to live on to fight another day.

Wide Body

I decided to end on a positive note, so I hooked my fly in the rod guide and returned to the nearby car. My day was punctuated by the first and last fish with a few small wild fish in between and accompanied by a ton of fruitless casting. Seven fish in four hours was certainly a below average catch rate, but the ability to fish in a river on May 26, when run off predominates most of Colorado, was much appreciated.  I suspect that I will return if the flows remain in the fifty to two hundred cfs range for the foreseeable future.

Fish Landed: 7

South Platte River – 05/22/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/22/2021 Photo Album

Fishing with my son, Dan, is an event that I truly value. Unfortunately we only found one occasion to experience a stream visit together in 2020, and that evening outing on the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek was not very productive. It took place in late June, when Dan was trying to enjoy all his favorite activities, while the hours of daylight were abundant. As I recall, the flows remained on the high side, and that made fly fishing a bit challenging. The birth of my grandson, Theo, dramatically reduced Dan’s availability for fishing outings in 2021, but we finally scheduled a trip to the South Platte River for Saturday, May 22, 2021. My wife and Dan’s mother, Jane, volunteered to babysit for Theo on Saturday, thus liberating Dan for a fishing trip with his father.

Starting Point

We drove to a favorite stretch of the South Platte River on Saturday morning, and we were positioned on opposite sides of the waterway by 11:00AM. The temperature was in the low sixties, and the wind gusted in the fourteen to sixteen mile per hour range for much of our time on the river. The South Platte was flowing at 55 CFS in the section that we chose to explore, and this made the act of fooling trout more difficult than normal at higher flow rates.

Dan Begins His Day

Dan crossed the river to prospect the left (east) bank, while I embarked on wading along the west side. Dan began with a size 8 fat Albert and beadhead hares ear nymph, and I elected to tempt the river residents with a pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph. Dan retained the same two workhorse flies throughout the late morning and afternoon, while I swapped out the salvation for a classic RS2 and emerald caddis pupa. We moved up the river in parallel, and by the end of the day we each managed to net seven fish, all brown trout.

Congratulations, Dan

A Small Gem

Our results were subpar compared to most visits to this stretch of the South Platte River, but we were both satisfied with a pleasant experience in a spectacular outdoor setting. I always admire the huge red sandstone rock formations, the spaced-out ponderosa pines, and the sparse vegetation consisting of yuccas, cacti and short tufts of grass. The scent of the evergreens and smell of the tumbling river simply supplement the special nature of the South Platte River environment.

Dan on a Roll

The trout were on the small side compared to my memory of previous visits, but by the afternoon we registered a few spunky fighters in the twelve inch range. We quickly learned in the morning session, that marginal pockets no more than three feet deep failed to produce, so we covered a significant amount of water and skipped shallow sections. Deep runs and seams near large exposed boulders were definitely the most productive types of structure, and we sought out these holding lies. Most of my landed brown trout grabbed the hares ear nymph; however, one crushed the pool toy hopper, and another nabbed the salvation nymph. In addition, I connected temporarily with a few aggressive fish, and I was haunted by four solid boils to the hopper that failed to connect.

The most rewarding aspect of my day on the South Platte was the rare one on one time with my son. We caught up on all aspects of our lives. Hopefully we will not face another lengthy interval, before we can repeat a fun day of fly fishing.

Fish Landed: 7

South Platte River – 05/17/2021

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Deckers

South Platte River 05/17/2021 Photo Album

The cycle of bad weather early in the week and nice weather late in the week repeated itself once again for the week beginning on May 17. I reviewed the forecasts for various fishing locations and concluded that Monday was a slightly better option than Tuesday. Monday morning projected highs in the upper fifties with the chance of afternoon thunderstorms, while Tuesday predicted rain for most of the day. I decided to designate Monday as my fishing day.

Choosing a destination was my next task. As is my custom, I reviewed all the stream flows for potential day trip options. All the Front Range freestones and most of the tailwaters were already blown out except for South Boulder Creek, and even that small tailwater was rushing through the canyon below Gross Reservoir at 177 CFS. Originally, I harbored thoughts of squeezing in a trip to the Eagle River prior to run off, but flows on that west slope river elevated significantly over the last couple days, so I was reluctant to undertake the two plus hour drive with the risk of murky conditions.

The Arkansas River was up 50 – 100 CFS, depending on the section, and I was intrigued to try the upper river near Leadville, until I checked the temperatures. Leadville is two miles high, and this translated to high temperatures in the upper forties. The middle section weather was more tolerable, but I was reluctant to make the 2.5-hour drive having just endured that journey on Friday.

Looking Back to My Starting Point

My thoughts turned to the South Platte River, where the water managers were holding back releases to fill the various reservoirs for later in the summer. The Lake George area was flowing along at a steady 55 CFS, and I knew from prior trips, that this represented solid conditions. As I pondered yet another trip to Eleven Mile, the idea of testing the Deckers area crossed my mind. The Heyman fire ruined the Deckers fishery twenty years ago, and I could not recall any successful results during my infrequent visits over the intervening years. My friend, Steve, reported some solid results recently, and a young angler on Instagram also cited some decent catches. I decided to make the trip on Monday to see if, in fact, the river had recovered to a semblance of its previous glory. The DWR water chart displayed flows of 90 CFS at Trumbull, a small town several miles down river from Deckers. Temperatures in Deckers were also milder than some of my other options.

I arrived at my chosen spot by 9:30AM, and I quickly assembled my Sage four weight. The sky was gray, as thick clouds dominated the southwestern horizon. I elected to wear my fleece cardigan and raincoat and snugged on my New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps. The temperature was fifty degrees, and an intermittent breeze made it seem even chillier.

I hiked down the road for .4 mile and then dropped down a steep angled rock to the river, where I outfitted my line with a yellow fat Albert and trailed a salvation nymph and hares ear nymph. A prime spot existed adjacent to my starting position, but after ten to fifteen drifts, I abandoned it with no sign of a fish.

Three Hooked and Two Landed in This Narrow Pool

Another Display

I moved to the next attractive section in a narrow but deep run on the west braid around a tiny island. On the first cast a rainbow trout aggressively grabbed the salvation, and after I photographed and released it, I placed a second cast in the same deep channel. Much to my amazement a twelve-inch brown trout copied the actions of the rainbow, and my fish count climbed to two in a short amount of time. I released the brown, and I was surprised to momentarily connect with a third fish, but it quickly jettisoned the hook and escaped a photo session.

Second View

I wish I could report that the rest of my day evolved in similar fashion, but it did not. I stuck with the dry/dropper until 2:30PM, and the fish counter climbed to eight. After numerous disappointing sessions on the Deckers section of the South Platte, I was ecstatic over these results, even though the catch rate was average at best.

In the morning session I added another rainbow on the salvation, before I arrived at an interesting eddy near the parking lot. This location produced some positive results on previous visits, so I was optimistic that fish were present, and this was quickly confirmed by several sipping rises in the foam of the back eddy. I made the commitment to a double dry configuration and removed the dry/dropper and switched to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle with a Klinkhammer BWO as the trailer. The current between me and the foam patch grabbed my fly and created drag, so I moved to the top of the run and executed some reach casts to counter the drag on the line. Downstream drifts with the reach cast created some drag free floats, but the trout ceased feeding, and I surrendered to the pool.

Some thunder announced the onset of some stormy weather, and the sky darkened considerably, so I adjourned to the Santa Fe to eat my lunch. My return to the car afforded me an opportunity to brace for rain and foul weather, so I added my Northface down coat and topped off all the layers with my rain jacket.

Proud of This One

I returned to a beautiful wide riffle of moderate depth thirty yards upstream from the eddy, and I noticed a few sporadic rises. I considered the combination of dark overcast skies and rises and concluded that baetis activity might be commencing, so I exchanged the hares ear nymph for a classic RS2. This proved to be a prescient move, as a fourteen-inch brown trout nabbed the RS2, as I applied an exaggerated mend, while the flies glided along a high bank on the opposite side of the river. Needless to say, I was very pleased with this turn of events.

Powerful Fish

A bit farther upstream I lobbed an obligatory cast to a marginal and narrow slack area next to a fast current, and a fifteen-inch brown trout snatched the RS2. This trout dove deep and exhibited a strong effort to escape, before I guided it into my net. Things were getting interesting in the Deckers section of the South Platte River, and I was a believer in the reports from my friend, Steve. The fish count was perched at six including two robust wild brown trout, and I already exceeded my low expectations.

Rock Garden Yielded the Rainbow

I continued upstream to an area characterized by several deep runs and pockets among some huge sandstone boulders. My arrival at this locale coincided with a five-minute downpour, but I was more than prepared with my rain jacket and hood in place, so I continued fishing through the brief weather event.

Chunky Rainbow after a Long Lull

Between the end of the storm and 2:30PM I prospected upriver through various runs, pockets and pools, and this focused effort yielded an eight-inch rainbow trout and a muscular thirteen-inch rainbow. Both rainbows favored the salvation nymph, and the larger of the two came from a forty-yard section of rocky structure that contained numerous deep pockets and runs that swirled around submerged and exposed boulders.

Above the rocky section I encountered a long riffle area with a depth of three to four feet, and once again some sporadic rises announced the presence of several trout. In fact, some clouds darkened the sky, and the wind escalated, and the number of rising trout multiplied to six or seven. A cluster dominated the slow-moving shelf pool on the left side, and the rest rose more sporadically in the faster moving riffle directly above me.

Lots of Rising Trout in This Section

In an effort to capitalize on the windfall feeding activity, I swapped the orange scud for the classic RS2, but it was obvious that the fish were not tuned into food at the bottom or midlevel of the river. Next, I reverted to a double dry method with a hippie stomper as the indicator fly and a Klinkhammer BWO emerger as the trailer. Again, fish rose within inches of my offerings, and I resigned myself to yet another change. I snipped the Klinkhammer off, and replaced it with a beadless soft hackle emerger.

It required a ridiculous quantity of casts, but eventually another fourteen-inch brown trout latched on to the trailing soft hackle emerger, and I was proudly in possession of another quality wild trout, and this was my first of the day on a dry fly. A wide smile occupied my face, as I snapped off a few photos and released fish number nine.

Took a Soft Hackle Emerger

The next thirty minutes were pure frustration. The sky darkened once again, and the breeze kicked up, and I could now clearly discern a flotilla of tiny mayflies with upright wings in the glare on the surface of the slow-moving water of the shelf pool. The aquatic insect sailboats seemed to be slowly circling back upstream toward the shoreline, and trout were aggressively dimpling the area. My adrenalin activated, and I fired cast after cast to the area, but my fly was rudely ignored. In an act of desperation, I switched the soft hackle emerger for a size 24 CDC BWO, and the tiny tuft provided a similar silhouette with an upright wing, but the trout were having none of it. As a last-ditch gambit, I removed the hippie stomper and cast the CDC BWO solo, but, alas, this was yet another failed human intervention in a natural process.

Finally, the sun peaked out briefly and halted the feeding frenzy, so I hooked the CDC BWO to my rod guide and scrambled up the steep bank. I saluted the cluster of South Platte River baetis feeders and marched back to the car. Some dark clouds were in the southern sky, so in all likelihood another wave of feeding was around the corner, but my arm and mind were fried. I already surpassed my meager expectations for the day, so I returned to the car and prepared for the return drive. The South Platte River at Deckers is back on my radar as a fly-fishing destination.

Fish Landed: 9

South Platte River – 04/30/2021

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/30/2021 Photo Album

I was weary of somewhat frustrating hatch matching trips and anxious for some active prospecting with dry/droppers. High temperatures were forecast to reach into the upper sixties near Lake George, CO, and the flows continued at a steady 56 CFS, so I paid a visit to the open water of Eleven Mile Canyon. The area that beckoned me was open to all types of fishing including bait, but previous visits convinced me that decent fish remained in spite of the added pressure and harvesting of trout.

Water at the Start

I arrived at 10:15AM and prepared to fish by 10:30. My preparation included assembling my Sage four weight, and the temperature when I began enabled me to forego any outer layers besides my fishing shirt. Friday was shaping up as a spectacular spring day. In fact, the entire day evolved into a bright blue sky and sunny affair with minimal cloud cover, and the temperature soared to the seventy degree mark. Would the fishing be equally as magnificent?

Beast for This Stretch of River

Salvation Nymph

I focused on pocket water during most of my time on the water, and it paid off. I began with a fat Albert, hares ear nymph and salvation and landed two decent trout in the first half hour. Both consumed the salvation, and one was a feisty rainbow, and the other was a brown trout. After the first hour I began to notice small blue winged olives dancing above the surface, so I swapped the salvation for a sparkle wing RS2. This proved to be a mistake, although the RS2 yielded two trout that grabbed the emerger on the swing,  I became disillusioned with the RS2, when I covered some very attractive deep runs and pockets with no action to report.

Prime Deep Run By Exposed Boulders

I ate lunch at noon, and after lunch I decided to return to the salvation/hares ear combination. In spite of the sparse hatch, noticeable rises were a rarity, What a move! Conventional wisdom would suggest that I imitate the prevalent insect, and in this case it was the baetis, but the trout seemed to prefer the salvation nymph. Perhaps the extra weight of the larger and heavier nymph explained the contrarian performance of the salvation.

Watch Band on Back

Likely Productive

For the next couple hours I probed every significant deep pocket and especially seams along deep runs, and I escalated the fish count from four to twelve. Most of the landed trout were browns in the twelve to thirteen inch range, but I also tussled with several muscular rainbows that measured thirteen to fourteen inches. Deep runs and seams, where the current entered pools, were prime producers, and I focused my efforts in those types of stream locations. This manner of fly fishing was exactly the type of carefree prospecting to nonselective fish that I envisioned on the last day of April.

Afternoon Prize

By 2:30PM I ran out of upstream real estate, as I bumped into a trio of newly arrived fishermen, who unknowingly high holed me. I marched back down the road to a downstream spot that featured another stretch of large exposed boulders and pocket water. I was hoping that similar stream structure would translate to success that matched the early afternoon. I applied the same techniques here that served me well earlier, but the magic disappeared. I managed to land three small brown trout to increase the fish count, but I covered some very attractive deep runs and pockets with no success. I am not sure whether to attribute the change in catch rate to the time of day, the different section of the river, or the increased presence of other anglers.

Lovely Run

A fifteen fish day on the South Platte River was just what the doctor ordered. I faced minimal indecision about fly choice, and simply fished the water with a three fly dry/dropper and enjoyed some respectable trout on a gorgeous spring day in a spectacular setting in the Rocky Mountains. Life was good.

Fish Landed: 15

South Platte River – 04/22/2021

Time: 12:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/22/2021 Photo Album

After a string of cold April days I looked for a window of fishing opportunity on April 22, 2021. I adopted the practice of checking air temperatures on Weather Underground ahead of stream flows on the DWR web site. Most of my  normal destinations predicted highs in the forties, but the Arkansas River at Salida and the South Platte River by Lake George displayed highs in the fifties. High winds on the Arkansas River ruled out my preferred option, and I settled for the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. I visited this section of the South Platte on two previous occasions with decent success, and I was fairly certain to interact with the dependable blue winged olive hatch.

I delayed my start from north Denver until 8:30, as I did not wish to arrive too early, when the temperatures were adverse. My strategy worked fairly well, as I arrived at my chosen destination by 10:45AM. The temperature was in the low forties, but the sky was clear blue, and the sun dominated, so I was certain the thermometer would rise to at least the upper forties. Nevertheless, I wore my UnderArmour long sleeved insulated undershirt, my fleece hoodie, my raincoat and my Northface light down coat. For head gear I donned my billed New Zealand hat with ear flaps, and I pulled my raincoat hood over the hat for extra protection against the chilly morning wind. I stuffed handwarmers in my Northface pockets, and I opened a pack of foot warmers for my feet.

Boulder Garden

I approached the stream and rigged my line with a dry/dropper and was prepared to make my initial cast by 11:30AM. My lineup consisted of a fat Albert, iron sally and classic RS2. I prospected the first nice pool that I approached, but the trout were not cooperating, so I paused on a wide flat rock and consumed my lunch.

After lunch I continued my progression up the river by searching some nice pocket water, but once again the fish contracted a case of lockjaw. One of my favorite pools was next, but it was occupied by another angler, so I circled around and dropped into another short series of pockets. I exchanged the RS2 for an orange scud, but the exchange failed to change my angling fortunes. Another nice pool appeared above the pocket water, and I began to fish this section with my dry/dropper, but I exchanged the iron sally for an emerald caddis pupa and reverted to a sparkle wing RS2 as my point fly. Again the trout gave me a resounding thumbs down.

I could see the spectacular bend pool ahead of me, but is was populated by three fishermen. Fortunately, as I was about to by-pass the trio, I began to spot some sporadic rises from the pool that I was occupying. I tried a few dry/dropper casts with lifting and swinging action to simulate the RS2 as emerging blue winged olives, but this ploy did not arouse interest, so I converted to a single dry fly approach. I knotted a CDC BWO to my line, but whether using an upstream cast or across and down, the trout were having none of it. I tried a Klinkhammer emerger and then trailed a beadless soft hackle emerger, and I nicked the lip of one trout with the Klinkhammer, but overall my flies were rudely ignored.

I surrendered to the highly educated trout and moved above the Steve Supple bend pool that was occupied and arrived at the next fine pool above the island and braids. Once again quite a few trout were rising, but in spite of my optimism my efforts were futile. I tried a BWO cripple, that I tied the previous afternoon, but it was shunned, and the size 20 fly appeared to be too large. Eventually I gave up on the selective feeders and moved to the heart of the pool, where a huge vertical wall bordered the east side. I positioned myself across from five or six visible risers, but once again my flies were treated like covid positive specks. The lighting was difficult in the prevalent partial shadows and sun glare, and tracking the drab colored olive imitations was a challenge.

Respectable

I gave up and moved to the top of the pool, where a pair of feeder runs split around an exposed boulder and then rejoined creating a deep single run and pool. In order to better track the flies, I resorted to a triple dry system with a silver body hippie stomper followed by a size 24 CDC BWO on a six inch leader and then a soft hackle emerger on another six inch tippet. I began feeding downstream casts to a glutinous gulper at the tail of the run, and miraculously on the fifth cast a rainbow snatched the soft hackle emerger. I made a swift hook set and eventually coaxed the respectable trout into my net. I was certain that an embarrassing skunking was in my future in spite of wave upon wave of blue winged olives fluttering up from the river, but fortunately I was now on the scoreboard with an almost embarrassing total of one fish.

Handsome

I continued upstream to the next wide pool, but by now the sun appeared, and the hatch dwindled to occasional rises. I paused and mostly observed in this area, but the signs of feeding fish were reduced, and I decided to return to the shadowed area armed with the advantage of a three dry fly set up for better visibility. The revisit worked, and I landed two rainbows of fourteen and fifteen inches in the pool with the high vertical wall. The added visibility of the hippie stomper was a huge plus, and it enabled me to see or approximate where my tiny trailers were at any point in time. Both of the late day catches grabbed the size 24 CDC BWO.

Spread Out

Site of the Last Fish Landed

I quit at 4:00PM and talked to another fisherman from Pennsylvania at Steve’s pool for awhile on my return hike. Thursday was a subpar day from a numbers perspective, but the three landed fish were excellent quality. I also hooked but failed to land three additional fish during my four hours on the river. I could not complain about the weather other than the intermittent gusts of wind. The temperature actually spiked above fifty, and for that I was thankful. The hatch was everything I could have hoped for. Every time a cloud blocked the sun, the wind kicked up, and the rings of rising trout appeared throughout the river. I simply did not have the right imitation for the situation. My theory is that strong wind blows the emerging mayflies off the water quickly, but many of the baetis get dumped back on the surface in a crumpled state, and the fish key on movement from their targeted food source. I am now contemplating tying some size 22 dry flies in the Catskill style with hackle wound around the hook. A fly dancing on hackle tips on the surface of the river may better approximate the clumsy movement of the mayflies, as they attempt to lift off and combat the strong wind.

Fish Landed: 3

South Platte River – 04/12/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/12/2021 Photo Album

A cold wind blasted out of the north, as I positioned myself next to some attractive pockets on the South Platte River on April 12, 2021. Given my aversion to cold weather fishing, how did I allow myself to end up in this chilling position? Generally I prefer the air temperature to surpass 45 degrees, and I like the wind velocity to be in single digits. Neither of these conditions were met during my day in Eleven Mile Canyon.

I experienced my best day of 2021 a week ago in the same stretch of river, and I was quite anxious to schedule a return engagement. Unfortunately a variety of circumstances conspired to prevent my return until Monday, April 12. Cold weather and snow provided a hurdle to fishing on April 6 and 7, but I salvaged Wednesday with a day on the ski slopes of Vail Ski Resort. Of course, April 8 was a pleasant spring day, but I devoted that calendar date to helping Jane care for our grandson, Theo. Strong winds plagued Friday, and I used that excuse to avoid a stream. Saturday was the best day of the intervening week from a weather standpoint, but I avoid popular rivers on weekends, so I satisfied my need to fish with a trip to Clear Creek. Sunday was another decent day from a weather perspective, but weekend crowding served as a hurdle to returning to the South Platte River.

Upstream from Start

The above rundown brings us to Monday, April 12. Weather Underground displayed a forecast of high temperatures in Lake George, CO of 50 degrees with high single digit wind velocity. This projection satisfied my two critical weather criteria, so I rolled the dice and made the trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. April was rapidly slipping away, and my opportunities to enjoy my passion were diminishing. I needed to compromise my comfort level in order to take advantage of the disappearing 2021 season.

Starting Point

The drive was uneventful, and I arrived at Lake George by 10:00AM. The dashboard thermometer registered 31 degrees, so I confess that I extended my time in the cozy confines of my car for an extra thirty minutes, as I completed two detours to delay my arrival at my chosen destination. The ploy paid modest dividends, as the temperature climbed to 35 degrees, by the time I exited the Santa Fe to prepare for a day of fishing. For attire I snugged into my fleece hoodie, light down Northface coat, and my New Zealand hat with ear flaps. I searched through my Fishpond fishing bag and extracted my fingerless wool gloves. My Sage One five weight became the fly rod of choice to combat the wind and support the expectation of larger than average fish. I hiked up the dirt road for half a mile and then descended a gradual path to the edge of the river and the scene described in the first paragraph. Could I possibly catch fish in these weather conditions, and how long would I survive the wind and cold?

Hares Ear Nymph in Lip

I used my stiff fingers to rig my line with a yellow fat Albert trailing a beadhead hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug, and I prospected a series of attractive pockets in the area below the medium-sized pool, where I generally pause for lunch. On the third cast the fat Albert plunged, and I set the hook half expecting to be connected to some aquatic moss or vegetation. Much to my surprise a twelve inch rainbow trout splashed about, but after a few brief runs I guided it into my net. I carefully removed my left wool glove to keep it dry; and then I grabbed the trout, posed it for a photo and carefully removed the hook while attempting to keep my hand dry. My optimism soared, but the remaining prime pockets in this section failed to produce.

Lunch Pool

I moved along the left bank to the run that fed the nice lunch pool, and I prospected the shelf pool, current seam and tail out very thoroughly, but the fish were not cooperative. I removed the ultra zug bug and replaced it with a sparkle wing RS2, but the change produced little impact, although I did experience a brief connection tight to a large rock next to the bank. I chomped my lunch at 11:45AM, and then I progressed to the pocketwater that separated the lunch pool from the gorgeous long run and pool that occupied my attention a week ago.

The Big Pool

Initially I cast the dry/dropper system to the seams along the faster runs that fed the pool, but by 1PM I began observing sporadic rises in the gut of the pool, where the river fanned out into the slower moving lower section (photo above). I was not having success with my clumsy dry/dropper set up, so I embraced the opportunity to switch to a dry fly. I removed the three flies as quickly as my cold, stiff fingers allowed, and I knotted a size 22 CDC BWO to my line. This was the same type and size of fly that served me quite well on April 5.

Handsome

Between 1:00PM and 2:30PM I executed downstream drifts and ratcheted the fish count upward from one to eight. I resorted to across and downstream drifts, and the pool dwelling trout responded with frequent assaults. When a cloud blocked the sun, the wind kicked up, and this weather pattern in turn prompted a flurry of rising fish. The 1.5 hours of fast action included an abundant quantity of fruitless casting, but my frequency of success was, nevertheless, quite rewarding. Brown trout were the predominant species, but I also netted a vividly colored cutbow to add diversity to my efforts. Twitching and lifting the fly in front of a fish proved to be a successful ploy, as the trout attempted to snag a fleeing morsel of food. During the process of releasing a fish early in this time period, a gust of wind whipped my left-hand fingerless glove off of an exposed rock and dumped it in the river. I quickly recovered it, but the palm area was wet, and I was forced to fish without coverage on my left hand for the remainder of the day.

Love the Speckles

Unfortunately change is constant in fly fishing, and although the waves of hatching baetis mayflies continued from 2:30 until 4:00PM, my ability to dupe trout consistently ended. I am hard pressed to explain this change. Perhaps the stronger gusts of wind caused the resident trout population to look for a different stage of the mayfly, or maybe cripples became the predominant food supply? Did my efforts to land thrashing fish disturb the water and make the feeders more wary? I suspect this was not the case, because the pool was populated with ten to fifteen feeding fish at many points in time. I swapped the CDC BWO for a soft hackle emerger for a bit, and this change resulted a a pair of temporary hook ups. Next I exchanged the soft hackle emerger for a Klinkhammer BWO, and almost instantly a small rainbow responded with an aggressive strike. But just as quickly the Klinkhammer became another ignored speck on the surface of the river.

Nice One

By 3:30PM I no longer felt my toes, and I began to shiver steadily. I slowly waded to the bank and stood on an exposed rock to remove my stumps from the cold water. This position was less desirable for presenting flies, but I did manage to fool another pretty cutbow, before I could no longer tolerate the wind and cold, and I returned to the Santa Fe.

Ink Spots

On Monday, April 5 I endured adverse weather conditions to notch a ten fish day, so the discomfort at least paid off with double digits. The largest fish was a brown trout that probably measured fifteen inches, and two spectacularly colored cutbows reached fourteen inches. When I checked the dashboard thermometer, as I began to drive back out of the canyon, it displayed 33 degrees. The temperature in Lake George was 41 degrees, and I am certain that the high temperature, where I was fishing never exceeded 40 degrees. I am also convinced that the wind gusted at double digit speeds. Nevertheless, I fished for five hours, survived the wintry conditions and netted double digit trout. The five day forecast for Denver predicts wintry conditions, so I may have to endure another cold day to get my fishing fix. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 10

South Platte River – 04/05/2021

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/05/2021 Photo Album

Gorgeous weather with a high in the 60’s at Lake George motivated me to take a trip to the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon on Monday, April 4. I arrived at the wide pullout above the long and placid pool in the special regulation section by 10:30AM, and after pulling on my waders and setting up my Sage One five weight, I was prepared to fish by 11:15AM. I hiked up the road for .5 mile and descended on a moderate path to the river. I was delayed by a couple false starts, when I first forgot my sun gloves and then realized that I was without my frontpack.

First Prime Pool on Monday

The river was flowing clear and low at 56 CFS, and it was free of ice. A fair amount of residual snow remained along the east side of the river, as a steep canyon wall prevented the sun’s rays from penetrating for much of the day. I rigged my nymph system with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, sucker spawn, and sparkle wing RS2, and then I thoroughly explored some deep pockets and a nice medium sized pool, but the trout exhibited disdain for my offerings. By 11:50AM the fish count was stalled at zero, and I paused to eat my lunch, while I observed the pool. Quite a few swarms of tiny tan or gray colored midges buzzed about just above the surface, and I witnessed five or six very sporadic rises in the pool, while I munched my sandwich and crunched my carrots.

Dark Olive Hue

After lunch I swapped the sucker spawn for a 20 incher and replaced the sparkle wing with a classic RS2. Neither of these fish magnets created interest, so I converted to a dry/dropper with a size 8 fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph and sparkle wing RS2, and the RS2 produced a thirteen inch brown trout from the current seam created by a run that fed the lunch pool. I was quite pleased with my initial success, and I moved up the river with renewed optimism. In some deep pockets between the lunch pool and the next larger one, I temporarily connected with a larger fish, but it quickly figured out how to jettison my hook.

I Spent Most of the Day at This Run and Pool

When I arrived at the spectacular long pool fed by two very attractive deep runs that split around an exposed boulder, I tossed the dry/dropper to the faster water. In a brief amount of time I began to notice sporadic rises, and eventually the feeding activity became more steady. This was my sign to switch to a dry fly, and I removed the dry/dropper rig and knotted a size 22 CDC blue winged olive to my line. This proved to be a prescient move, as I fished the olive CDC comparadun for the remainder of the afternoon and accumulated a total of fifteen fish. Yes, Monday afternoon temporarily satisfied my appetite for early season fly fishing action. During one half hour period, when the CDC BWO was being rudely ignored, I switched to a Klinkhammer emerger, and this fly accounted for one fish. When the Klinkhammer was also shunned, I added a six inch tippet extension and tied on a soft hackle emerger to fish in the film, and this fly also notched one fish. After a half hour of experimentation, I observed an abundant quantity of feeding fish, and they ignored my double dry offering, so I reverted to the CDC BWO.

Showing Off the Slash

Reintroduced to the River

Initially I presented a size 20, but it was soundly rejected, so I returned to a size 22, and this enabled me to revisit success. Monday afternoon was simply a baetis feeding blitz. Large gray clouds blocked the sun’s rays for extended time periods, and this prompted wind and low light, and the blue winged olives became a favored food source for the trout. The cycle of clouds followed my brief periods of sunshine repeated often, and I took advantage of the cloud cover to net wild canyon trout. Brown trout dominated the catch; however, I managed one chunky rainbow in the fifteen inch range, and I added three brilliantly colored cutbows that featured vibrant slashes below their jaws.

A Bit More Girth

Lovely Color Scheme

Down and across drifts yielded the most success, and on several occasions I twitched the tiny dry fly in front of a trout, and this erratic movement provoked a vicious take. I actually felt like I figured things out, but that confidence did not last long. Every take was accompanied by at least fifteen fruitless casts, so the trout were not totally convinced that my imitation was a precise copy of the naturals. Nevertheless, it worked better than the other blue winged olive fakes in my fly box, and it produced with enough frequency to keep me focused for nearly four hours in the same pool. A fifteen fish day on April 5 represented a solid success, and I look forward to a return trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. Catching fourteen out of fifteen on a dry fly was simply icing on the cake. The best of the pre-runoff fly fishing is around the corner, and Monday was a great sample of what may lie in my future.

Fish Landed: 15

South Platte River – 11/03/2020

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 11/03/2020 Photo Album

Tuesday’s outing on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon breaks down into two very different experiences. Between 11:00AM and 2:00PM I endured three hours of frustration. All my action for Tuesday was packed into the final hour.

The temperature in Denver was forecast to stretch into the mid-seventies, and the high for Lake George near the South Platte River was predicted to reach 62 degrees. The weather prognosticators were quite accurate based on my assessment after spending the late morning and afternoon in the area. The gauge for the South Platte River below Eleven Mile Reservoir is out of service, but I suspect the flows registered in the 60 CFS range.

Looked Like Ideal Nymphing Water

I arrived at a pullout by 10:30 and decided to explore an area outside the special regulation section. I geared up with the Sage four weight and pulled on my North Face light down coat to ward off the chill, while I began my quest for trout in shadows on the eastern side of the river. The steep canyon walls along the left side of the road blocked the low sun for much of the day, and a significant amount of snow remained from last weekend’s storm. The temperature when I began at 11:00 AM was in the low fifties.

I used my New Zealand indicator tool to attach a tuft of chartreuse poly to my line and then crimped a split shot above the last knot on the tippet. Beneath these nymphing accessories I knotted an orange-yellow yarn egg and a RS2. I prospected the deeper water over the next forty-five minutes, but evidence of local trout was absent. I began in some shadowed areas and quickly moved into a nice area bathed in sunlight, but neither produced even a nibble to my flies. I grew frustrated and decided to move to the special regulation area, where presumably a more dense population of trout existed. I theorized that the presence of more fish translated to a higher probability of success.

This Pool Earned a Few Casts

I drove up the canyon toward the dam to the area that I frequently fish, but all the parking spaces were occupied, so I reversed direction and parked .3 mile downstream from my usual spot. The bank in this area is quite steep, so I walked upstream, until I found a relatively gradual path covered with packed snow, and I carefully edged my way down to the river and then followed some footsteps through the snow to the first nice pool. Before I could unhook my line to make a cast, I spotted another angler, so I circled around him and approached a second favorite pool. Once again another fisherman was present, so I resumed my hike in the snow. The next pool was much smaller than the first two, but it was unoccupied, so I covered it thoroughly with my egg and RS2 combination. This cycle of bumping into other fishermen and casting to less desirable spots in between continued until 2:15PM, when my frustration reached its peak, and I decided to call it quits. The cold water from the dam numbed my feet, the fish were uncooperative, and in spite of these negatives, fishermen were everywhere.

I Exited Via That Steep Path in the Snow Below the Orange Sign

I climbed a steep snow packed trail to the road and hiked .4 miles to the Santa Fe. Rather than accept a skunking I decided to walk an additional .2 mile to a wide pullout above a huge long slow moving pool. Upon my arrival I noted that the entire area was vacant, so I scrambled down a jumble of snow covered rocks to the edge of the river one-third of the way from the downstream end of the pool. I slowly waded upstream along the left side while methodically scanning the bottom of the river for shadows or moving forms. Alas, my attempt to sight fish proved futile, as I never spotted a trout. I reversed direction with the intent of finding the snowy path to climb back to the road, but for some reason I decided to inspect the bottom one-third of the pool. Much to my surprise I began to observe sporadic rises directly across from my position and downstream.

Nice Length

I watched for a few minutes, and the evidence of feeding fish convinced me to make a last ditch attempt to catch one. I patiently removed the strike indicator, split shot and two flies and knotted a size 24 CDC BWO to my line. I began delivering downstream casts to the feeding trout below my position, and nearly every drift was greeted with a small dimple, but my swift hook sets simply hurled the fly back in my direction. After ten minutes of frustration, I paused to evaluate and decided to switch to a size 22 soft hackle emerger with no bead. I applied floatant liberally to the body and began to cast. I fired a few casts to the small pod of fish directly across from me with no success, and then I turned my attention to the subtle feeders across and downstream. I began executing reach casts, so the fly line landed upstream of the fly, and on the fourth drift a fish bulged on the emerger. I responded with a lift and felt the underwhelming weight of a small brown trout. Since I was in skunk status, I quickly determined that it was six inches long and reluctantly added the small trout to my mental fish count log.

I turned my attention to several persistent risers downstream from the fish that I landed, and after quite a few fruitless casts, I connected with my best fish of the day, a fifteen inch rainbow. The slab ‘bow demonstrated some fine fighting techniques, but I eventually coaxed it into my net for a photo session. For the next forty-five minutes I persisted in my effort to fool pool risers, and I managed to add a fourteen inch rainbow to my fish count. The soft hackle emerger lost its allure, so I swapped it for a Klinkhammer BWO, and the small low riding baetis emerger imitation duped the third fish of the day. During this time period I also broke off a soft hackle emerger on a fish that felt heavier than any fish that occupied my net. I was not particularly happy about that turn of events. Also in the area across from me I connected with two fish that felt similar to the landed rainbows, but each managed to escape, before I could slide them into my net.

Satisfying

Downstream Drifts in the Bottom End of the Pool

My total time on the South Platte River was four hours, but approximately one hour was consumed by lunch, wading, walking and moving the car. Of the three hours of actual fly fishing, two were unproductive and frankly quite boring. I am not a big fan of fishing nymphs with an indicator, and doing so with low confidence translated to wandering thoughts and low expectations. The last hour of dry fly action salvaged my day and provided the opportunity to land six fish, although only three made it to my net. It was a nice day, and once I escaped the other fishermen, I focused on catching trout on dry flies in November. I cannot complain.

Fish Landed: 3

 

Middle Fork of the South Platte River – 10/06/2020

Time: 10:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Tomahawk State Wildlife Area

Middle Fork of the South Platte River 10/06/2020 Photo Album

I landed some quality fish on Monday from the Arkansas River; however, I was dissatisfied with the fish count, so I decided to visit another never before fished stretch of river. I chose the MIddle Fork of the South Platte River at the Tomahawk State Wildlife Area. I read positive reviews on this section, and the salesperson at ArkAnglers raved about it, when I stopped to look for a new New Zealand indicator tool after fishing on Monday. I consider myself an above average fly fisherman, but my day at Tomahawk humbled me. The conditions could not have been more challenging, so I should probably reserve judgment, until I try it again under more favorable circumstances.

The drive from the Woodlands Motel in Salida to the Tomahawk area north of Hartsel was approximately an hour. The man at the fly shop told me that there were two entrances, and I decided to seek the second one, as I headed north on CO 9, but I somehow missed the sign and traveled five miles beyond it. I finally realized that I was moving farther away from the stream and executed a turnaround. As I headed in a southeastern direction, I finally saw the sign. It was paralleling the highway and tilted toward southbound traffic, so I felt vindicated in missing it. I followed a reasonably smooth dirt road, until I arrived at the largest parking lot, and I grabbed a space facing south. I was the only car in the lot, although several were visible in other smaller pullouts on the opposite side of the river.

I quickly assembled my Sage four weight and pulled on my waders and began hiking along a well worn path that paralleled the right or northeastern side of the river. The water was extremely low, and the air temperature was already in the sixties. A cool breeze blew intermittently, so I wore my raincoat as a windbreaker; however, by lunch time I rolled it into a tight cylinder and stuffed it in my backpack. Low, clear water, a bright blue sky with no cloud cover, and wind foreshadowed a tough day.

Lots of Exposed River Bed

I decided to hike ten minutes from the parking lot to escape the typically highly pressured nearby sections. After the requisite distancing I cut to the river (really more like a creek) and commenced my day. I began with a hippie stomper, iron sally and pheasant tail nymph; and in the early going I scattered quite a few fish. The shadow from my overhead line seemed to spook the fish, and very few deep holes that offered reasonable cover were evident. After half an hour of futility, I arrived at a nice V-shaped deep trough next to a high bank on the left. A strong current ran five feet way from the bank, and I was drawn to the space between the current seam and the bank. I began casting the dry/dropper to the top of the deep area, and on the fifth drift a substantial fish elevated to inspect the hippie stomper. On a subsequent cast the same look with a closed jaw occurred.

Since my blind prospecting was proving futile, I decided to focus on this now visible fish, and I began a sequence of fly changes. I cycled through a Jake’s gulp beetle, a stimulator, a caddis, an ant, and a pool toy hopper; but none of these imitation morsels caused the targeted fish to even take a look. I decided to move on, but this was probably the closest I came on Tuesday to hooking and landing a fish over the six inch minimum.

A Deep Trough Proved Unproductive

I paused to eat my lunch at noon, and then I continued my upstream migration. In total I covered at least a mile, and the number of attractive fish holding locales was limited. At 1:00PM I approached a spot, where some murky water re-entered the river from a small irrigation channel. At the time I was fishing an olive stimulator with a sunken epoxy ant, and two brown trout refused the stimulator. Once again the rare sighting of two fish motivated me to try some alternative dry flies; and I drifted an Adams, deer hair caddis, parachute ant, CDC BWO, and gray comparadun along the edge of the discolored seam; and only the deer hair caddis generated additional looks.

After twenty minutes I surrendered to the picky eaters and continued my upstream progression, but I never saw or even spooked another fish. The sun was bright and the air temperature soared into the upper seventies, and the high plain provided no shade to blunt the intensity of the sun’s rays. I decided to cut my losses and hiked back to the car for an early departure. I probably spent more time walking and changing flies than fishing. Over the course of my 3.5 hours I tested a hippie stomper, stimulator, parachute ant, olive-brown deer hair caddis, gray deer hair caddis, gray comparadun, Jake’s gulp beetle, pool toy hopper, parachute hopper, iron sally, pheasant tail nymph, salvation nymph, sunken ant and RS2. Only the hippie stomper and olive-brown deer hair caddis drew interest.

Tuesday was a humbling experience at the Tomahawk State Wildlife Area. If I return, I will choose a time when flows are considerably higher. Zero fish landed in 3.5 hours of fishing made me appreciate even more the many productive days that I experienced this summer.

Fish Landed: 0

South Platte River – 06/04/2020

Time: 10:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 06/04/2020 Photo Album

Three unproductive trips to lakes reinforced my desire to visit some flowing water, but the nagging question was where? Based on my review of the stream flow data on the DWR web site, it was clear that tailwaters offered the only viable option, as the Colorado freestones climbed toward their peaks. I contemplated the South Platte River for my trip on May 29, but the idea of a solo excursion of that length within eight weeks of heart surgery discouraged me, and I opted for nearby Bear Creek. Friday was a fun comeback outing, but I yearned for the possibility of tangling with trout of greater size.

The weather forecast for the week of June 3 projected highs in the upper 80’s and low 90’s. At the start of the week I suggested to Jane a trip to the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and she agreed. Jane could share the driving and track my well being, as I logged some sorely needed stream time. I checked the flows on Thursday morning, and 83 CFS was the current reading, and I knew from history that this level was nearly ideal. I was, however, bothered by the slope of the line, as it rose from 60 to 83 over the last few days.

I packed most of my gear on Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning we threw Jane’s bicycle and folding chair in the Santa Fe, and we hit the road by 8AM. This departure time enabled us to pull into a wide parking space by 10:00AM, and my wading boots were wet by 10:30AM. I elected to utilize my Sage four weight in case of wind, and after contemplating wet wading I opted to wear my waders. Ironically I am a fisherman, who does not particularly like to get wet.

As Good a Place as Any to Start

Quite a few competing fishermen were in the canyon, as the South Platte River represents one of a limited number of tailwaters that provide manageable flows during the run off time period. In spite of the greater than normal population of anglers, I found a nice starting spot at the bottom of a lengthy section of pocket water. Jane departed on a two hour hike, while I extended my leader and tied on a size 6 yellow fat Albert, a beadhead hares ear, and a salvation nymph. I decided to rely on the historically top producing flies from my fly box. I began lobbing casts upstream, and I allowed the three fly configuration to drift through some very attractive deep riffles and runs. After ten such passes I was surprised with a lack of action, but then just as the fat Albert entered a deep hole in front of a large submerged rock, it dipped, and I set the hook on a nice twelve inch brown. This was my largest post-operative fish, and I enjoyed a brief celebration. The much appreciated brown trout nipped the salvation nymph.

On the Board

I moved on through some additional juicy pockets, but the local trout were ignoring my three fly offering. A few caddis buzzed about along with a rare size 20 mayfly, but then I spotted a pair of size 12 or 14 golden stoneflies. I reacted to this observation by swapping the salvation nymph for an iron sally. The move paid dividends, when I landed three additional brown trout in the 12 -13 inch range shortly before noon. All three trout came from a narrow but deep ribbon of water that flowed between a large exposed boulder and the fast main current. I probed many more attractive places during the morning with no response, but I was nevertheless pleased by this sudden reversal of fortunes. All three of the hungry brown trout gobbled the tumbling iron sally, and this circumstance vindicated my switch.

Iron Sally Got It Done

A Fine Fish

I crossed the river and returned to Jane’s shady retreat along the dirt road, just after she returned from her hike. I grabbed my lunch and stool, and we relaxed and chatted for twenty minutes, before I resumed my quest for trout. I hiked back along the shoulder of the road, and while Jane looked on, I carefully lowered myself down a steep bank and crossed the river, until I was positioned just above my exit point. Between 12:30PM and 2:00 PM I continued my upstream progression at a steady rate, and I prospected all the likely runs and pockets. I was pleased to have the entire river to myself until the last thirty minutes, when a solo angler appeared above and below me.

After Lunch Rainbow

Deep Riffles in Front of Large Boulder Produced the Rainbow

For the first twenty minutes after lunch I failed to discover any signs of trout in spite of passing through quality water, so I made another modification to my lineup. I replaced the unproductive hares ear with an emerald caddis pupa, but maintained the trailing iron sally. Shortly after this adjustment the fat Albert dipped in a deep riffle near the opposite side of the river, and I quickly lifted the rod tip and found myself attached to a rambunctious rainbow trout. The silver bullet streaked up and down the river, until I eventually leveraged it into my net. The pink striped trout displayed an emerald caddis pupa in its mouth, and it extended to fourteen inches; the best fish of the day.

Pretty Typical for Thursday

For the remainder of the afternoon I worked my way upstream and methodically cast to all the likely trout lies while adding three more brown trout to the count. All were in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and one feasted on the emerald caddis pupa, one crushed the fat Albert, and the other grabbed the iron sally. Some clouds moved in and blocked the sky for a short while, and a flurry of raindrops descended but not enough to force a retrieval of my raincoat. Between 2:30 and 3:00PM I approached a young angler above me, and I looked back on another single fishermen in the water that I just covered. I gently released my eighth fish and waded across the river and then returned to the car.

Another Deep Trough

In 3.5 hours of fly fishing I landed eight trout, and all were twelve inches or greater. This was my best outing by far since my surgery, I was quite pleased with the outcome. Quite a few promising spots failed to deliver, and the larger, slow moving pools were not productive. I focused my efforts in long deep runs next to current seams, and riffles of moderate depth or large deep pockets were also favorite trout lairs. Afternoon cloud cover probably kept the high temperature in the upper seventies, and the scenery was exceedingly spectacular. I love the large boulders and spaced out pines that characterize the South Platte drainage. Jane had a great time as well, so hopefully I can convince her to make another trip in the near future. I noticed that the flows have gradually elevated to 93 as of June 5.

Fish Landed: 8