South Platte River – 02/16/2017

Time: 9:30AM – 11:30AM

Location: Waterton Canyon

South Platte River 02/16/2017 Photo Album

My friend Danny Ryan convinced me to get out of the house and fish. The high temperature in Denver was forecast to spike in the mid-seventies, and I needed to focus my mind on something other than the injury I sustained while skiing at Breckenridge on February 6. I slapped an elastic knee brace on my left knee and packed the new Santa Fe and departed for southwest Denver and Waterton Canyon.

In anticipation of my second fishing outing of 2017 I spent Wednesday afternoon transferring my flies from my old streamer wallet to a new one, that I received as a Christmas gift. I pruned quite a few ancient flies from my collection and vastly improved the organization of my streamer and nymph container. I should probably devote an afternoon to this every year prior to fishing early in the season.

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Done. New Streamer Wallet Populated.

When I arrived in the parking lot near the lower end of Waterton Canyon, the temperature was hovering around fifty degrees, so I wore my light REI down jacket. This proved to be a mistake. My first order of business was to find Danny, so I embarked on a crude path along the southeast side of the river, but after fifteen minutes of whacking through brush, he was no where to be found. I reversed my direction and crossed the road at the bridge, and then I continued on a twisting fisherman path for another twenty minutes. I passed two older fishermen near the bridge, and then I wandered a long distance without meeting another person. Where could he be? I noticed his truck was parked in the lot when I arrived, so he had to be in the vicinity.

Once again I reversed my direction and increased my pace until I returned to the bridge. By now the air temperature warmed into the upper fifties, and the extensive hiking kindled my body temperature to an overheated range. I checked the parking lot, and Danny’s truck was still in place, so I reconsidered my search options. I concluded that he must have waded downstream, so I crossed the bridge and then followed a faint path to an area where the river widened quite a bit. Two spin fishermen occupied the bank in this area, but there was no sign of Danny.

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Between the Bridge and Lake

I reversed my course one final time, and as I approached the bridge, I spotted a fisherman who resembled Danny in stature. Sure enough it was him, so I shouted, and he returned a greeting. Once we connected, we progressed upstream toward the bridge and then beyond. Much to our amazement the popular deep run above the bridge was vacant, so we paused to prospect our nymph rigs in the clear deep run and pool. I spotted some movement toward the upper end of the pool, so I dropped my pine squirrel leech and salad spinner in the entry riffle. On the second drift near the heart of the pool, the small clear thingamabobber paused, and I executed a sudden hook set. For a split second I felt weight and observed the flash of a rainbow trout, but then the elusive prize escaped, and I was left to continue my pursuit of the first fish of 2017.

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Attractive Hole

After some additional half-hearted casts to the pool, Danny and I abandoned the prime location and migrated farther upstream. In short order we encountered another nice deep run, so we paused and made some additional prospecting drifts, but this area was not productive. Again we reeled up our lines and continued our upstream progress to an area with an abundance of brush and fallen logs next to a deep narrow pool. Four fishermen were above us, and we did not spot any fish near our approach, so we began to circle around the other fishermen on a nice defined trail. After five minutes of walking, however, Danny decided that he needed to call it quits in order to return to work by a reasonable time.

We turned around and hiked back to the parking lot, where we said our goodbyes and promised to meet again in the near future. I enjoyed my time outdoors in the mild February weather, but the fishing was extremely slow. The low water translated to very few deep holding spots, and the fish seemed to be in scarce supply. At least I experienced my first connection of the new year.

Fish Landed: 0

South Platte River – 01/30/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Deckers, CO

South Platte River 01/30/2017 Photo Album

A streak of unseasonably warm weather in January 2017 infected me with the fly fishing bug, so I responded with a trip to the South Platte River below Deckers, CO. I chose Deckers, as it is a tailwater, and therefore less subject to ice over, and the river there flows through a relatively wide valley. Steep walled canyon drainages are not likely candidates for January fishing in Colorado.

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Attractive Piece of Water

I convinced Jane to join me, and we departed Denver by 9:40, and this enabled us to pull into a dirt parking area at the first ninety degree bend downstream from Deckers by 11:15. I was surprised by the number of fishermen present on a Monday in January, but I suppose the dose of warm weather affected others in a manner similar to my response. The river was fairly low at 80 CFS, but it was mainly open with occasional ice shelves along the bank. When we first encountered the river at Nighthawk, I was concerned about my ability to fish, as only a narrow ribbon of flowing water was visible, and many small icebergs tumbled through the slower moving open sections. The air temperature was 45 degrees as I prepared to fish, so I pulled on my down vest and New Zealand brimmed hat with ear flaps. Since this was my first outing of 2017, I tested my warranty replacement waders and the studded soles on my Korkers, that I received as a Christmas present.

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My Starting Point on Monday

The new equipment performed quite well, and I cannot understand why I did not buy studded wading boots sooner. The South Platte River at 80 CFS is not difficult to wade, but I clearly felt the benefit of the improved traction from the studded vibram soles. The weather gradually warmed until I was fishing in 55 degrees, and I removed the ear flaps and swapped my head gear for a wide brimmed hat.

I wish I could report the same level of success with my fishing on January 30, but I am unable to do so. I began my quest for the first fish of the year just above the first bridge below Deckers, and I configured my line with a strike indicator, split shot, flesh colored San Juan worm, and salad spinner midge imitation. I probed all the deep holes and pockets between the bridge and the run across from the car, before I broke for lunch. Halfway through this effort I swapped the San Juan worm for an orange scud, and then I traded the salad spinner for a size 18 mercury flashback black beauty. I was certain that the flashy midge imitation would produce, but it did not.

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Mercury Black Beauty Joins the Ice Shelf

Before lunch Jane took a long walk in both directions and reported hordes of fishermen above the Deckers bridge as well as full pullouts downstream from our position. I considered my options, and I decided to drive back downstream, until we were outside the special regulation water. Many times the title “catch and release” and “special regulations” attracts crowds, and especially on warm days in January. We traveled downstream until we were roughly halfway between Scraggy View and Nighthawk. I grabbed my rod and cut to the river directly across from the car, and here I encountered a wide shallow riffle. I carefully negotiated over some shelf ice until I approached a nice section below a ninety degree bend where two currents merged after splitting around a small island. The river was deep and relatively slow moving at the junction of the currents, and I was certain that this structure would deliver my first fish.

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Deep Trough Next to Ice Shelf Fished After Lunch

 

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My Only Catch

Unfortunately it was not to be. I fished for an hour with the orange scud and black beauty, but the only reward for my efforts was a six inch cube of ice that became embedded with my orange scud. I dutifully photographed my inanimate catch, and then I reeled up my line and found Jane basking in the sun next to the river by the Santa Fe. The wind kicked up a bit, so she was eager to begin the drive back to Denver. When we arrived in Stapleton, we noted that the temperature was 62 degrees. Despite my inability to catch fish on January 30, I still enjoyed a gorgeous day in a beautiful environment, and I tested out some new equipment, so it was a success in many ways.

Fish Landed: 0

South Platte River – 10/03/2016

Time: 9:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/03/2016 Photo Album

Monday October 3, 2016 qualifies as one of my worst days of fly fishing since I adopted this addictive pastime over thirty years ago. The source of my discontent is a four letter word. The four letter word is wind.

I arrived at the parking area along the South Platte River at nine o’clock, and when I attempted to get out of the car, the wind repeatedly forced the hinged door back to a closed position. Only after applying my full body weight and both hands was I able to swing the door to a fully open position. I should have accepted this as nature’s way of warning me to change my plans, but I foolishly pursued my scheduled day of fishing.

The air temperature on the dashboard was 53 degrees, and I knew from past experience that this was very tolerable if dressed appropriately. I swapped my high tech short sleeve shirt for an Under Armour long sleeve undershirt, that I wear while skiing. Over this base layer I added my fishing shirt and an insulating fleece cardigan. I elected to wear my brimmed New Zealand hat with ear flaps for additional comfort. I felt reasonably warm as I assembled my Sage four weight rod and then ambled to the edge of the river downstream from my parking spot.

I tied a beige pool toy hopper to my line, and beneath the foam imitation I added a hares ear nymph. The area in front of me contained numerous attractive deep runs and pockets, but it was enveloped by shadows, and this made following even the large foam attractor difficult. I persisted and stationed myself in a manner that enabled me to get the best lighting, so I could follow the drift. After ten minutes of prospecting with the two flies and no signs of trout, I added a salvation nymph as the third bottom fly.

I am embarrassed to report that after an hour of empty casting, I landed my first fish, a small brown trout. I was wading across the river to a new position closer to the far bank, and as the flies dangled behind me, the aggressive brown trout latched on to the salvation nymph. Who was I to reject this good fortune?

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Zoomed and Better Lighting

By 11:30 I moved around the bend and slightly above the Santa Fe, so I decided to return to the car for an early lunch. During the morning session the wind continued to howl, and this made casting a very difficult endeavor. Sporadic side gusts played havoc with my accuracy, and I executed numerous casts to obtain the desired drift, when normally I can place my flies very close to the target on the first attempt. Head winds were the worst, and I cannot even remember how often my cast was blown back to my feet. I reacted to the strong wind by overpowering the forward cast, and the rod tip actually touched the surface of the river on many occasions.

After lunch the wind velocity actually increased. I prospected a couple juicy runs, and then I approached a deep pocket, and I spotted three or four decent fish clustered in the deepest section near the tail. As I looked on, the fish demonstrated no reaction to my flies, and I concluded that the dry/dropper method was ineffective because my flies were not drifting along the bottom. I clipped off the pool toy and nymphs and converted to a strike indicator nymphing set up. I began with a beadhead hares ear and a soft hackle emerger, and this approach was moderately successful.

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Best Fish of the Day

Between noon and two o’clock I landed three additional small brown trout. In addition I experienced several temporary hook ups, so the change in tactics seemed to pay off. Unfortunately the wind continued to gust, and I actually endured numerous periods when I was unable to cast. In fact I could barely hold my stance in an upright position, as the wind attempted to undermine my balance. Even with the splt shot and strike indicator adding weight to my line, casting continued to be a difficult chore, and the only way I could combat the head wind was to cast toward two o’clock. The angled cast allowed me to shoot line, but mending upstream was very challenging and drag was impossible to prevent.

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Productive Pool

Several two minute periods elapsed when I was forced to turn my back to the wind, and the most forceful gusts lifted spray from the surface of the river and hurled it toward my face. By two o’clock I was sufficiently frustrated to call it quits. I hoped for a blue winged olive hatch, but such a fortuitous occurrence would have been wasted, since the tiny mayflies would have been whisked toward land before the trout were even aware of their presence. The wind showed no signs of abating, and I decided to save my arm and back muscles for more advantageous conditions. Hopefully this is a day that will quickly fade from my memory.

Fish Landed: 4

 

 

South Platte River – 09/06/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 09/06/2016 Photo Album

After a rough day on Clear Creek I was anxious to test my theory that tailwaters are the answer during the doldrum period that typically lasts from the middle of August through the first week of September. My watch displayed 11AM as I dipped my wading boots in the South Platte River, and although the dashboard registered a chilly 50 degrees during my drive, the sun warmed the air nicely, as I now ventured into the cold tailwater. The afternoon was a different story, as an abundance of clouds blocked the sun and prevented the temperature from getting beyond the seventies. The gray clouds never yielded rain, but strong gusts of wind made casting a challenge between 3 and 4:30.

The other variable of concern to a fisherman was the stream flow. Prior to my trip I checked the DWR web site, and the graph depicted a horizontal line holding steady at 182 cfs. I was concerned that this was a bit high, but when I approached the river, it was obvious that the level was quite manageable. I was easily able to move around, although I remained along the bank that bordered the fisherman path for the entire day. The fish seemed to love the cold moderately high flows, as they could spread out, but they also benefited from the protection associated with additional depth. I likewise appreciated the additional volume of water, as it allowed me to approach my target areas closer than is typical for low end of summer conditions.

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182 CFS Looks Great

I began my quest for fish with a Charlie boy hopper and a beadhead hares ear, and these offerings failed to interest any fish in the first couple juicy pockets. I began to fear a slow day, so I quickly adjusted and added a salvation nymph below the hares ear. In addition I exchanged the Charlie boy for a pool toy to provide the additional buoyancy necessary to support two size 16 beadhead nymphs. The move paid off, and as the dry/dropper drifted in a deep slot next to a large boulder, the hopper dipped, and I executed a swift hook set.

The hook point penetrated the lip of a hungry fish, and it immediately streaked away from me into heavier current, as I allowed line to rip from my reel. Unbeknownst to me, however, the fly line wrapped around the butt of my rod, and I observed the sickening sight of my line drifting in the current, as the escape artist dove into the main current with my salvation nymph in its mouth.

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An Early Rainbow or Cutbow Trout

After some healthy grieving I hooked a second fish, but it eluded my fly as well. Finally number three was a charm, and I landed a ten inch brown to initiate my fish count for the day, and it continued to climb until I broke for lunch with thirteen fish in the netted column. The water covered in the morning session was outstanding with plenty of pockets, deep runs and narrow slots. The fish loved this structure, and I reaped the benefits. Four fish found my net from one particularly productive area, and this included two thirteen inch rainbows. These would ultimately be two of the best fish landed on Tuesday, September 6.

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Ready to Release

 

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Lunch View

After lunch I lost a second salvation nymph when I was in the process of releasing a fish that was attached to the upper fly, the hares ear nymph. Not wishing to deplete my salvation supply further, I replaced it with a copper john, and the fish did not seem to mind the change. I did observe, however, that the fish favored the hares ear more in the afternoon, than was the case in the morning session.

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Beautiful Pattern

At another juncture in the afternoon I broke off the copper john, and since I spotted a sparse emergence of blue winged olives, I decided to test a soft hackle emerger in place of the copper john. It was a decent idea, but I discovered that all my catches, while the soft hackle was on my line, emanated from the pool toy or hares ear. This observation caused me to remove the soft hackle emerger, and I replaced it with a salvation nymph; but rather than risk one that I tied in a size 16, I knotted on a size 14 that I purchased at the Conejos River Angler. The trout seemed to relish the larger size.

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Spots Galore

Perhaps because of the gusty wind, the pool toy hopper produced more fish in the afternoon than was the case in the morning. I estimated that the pool toy accounted for five of the forty fish landed, but I also had quite a few long distance releases on fish that chomped the top fly.

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My Kind of Water

 

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Thirsty Deer

It was another amazing day on the South Platte River. I skipped the large pools and searched for the sections that offered pockets, slots, deep runs and moderate riffles; and these areas did not let me down. I love fishing dry/dropper in this manner, when I can approach fairly close and make quick short casts to likely spots and move at a rapid pace. It seemed that nearly every location that looked promising delivered a fish, and I reveled in the fast action and the electric anticipation of responsive fish. Of the forty fish landed, 32 were browns, and the remainder were rainbows with perhaps a cutbow or two in that mix. Based on my success on September 6, I suspect another 2016 trip may be on the calendar.

Fish Landed: 40

South Platte River – 08/17/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: First .5 mile below Scraggy View where the road makes a 90 degree bend, and then the Oxbow area in the special regulation section.

South Platte River 08/17/2016 Photo Album

I avoided breaking my rod or falling in the river. Those are the two positives I can cite regarding my fly fishing trip to the South Platte River below Deckers on Wednesday August 17.

My sister and brother-in-law were in Colorado Springs at a bed and breakfast celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and Jane made plans to golf, so I had an unexpected day to myself. I checked out the local options, and given my shift in focus to tailwaters, the South Platte River at Deckers flowing at 300 cfs attracted my attention. The reports on the local web sites seemed encouraging with tricos, pale morning duns and blue winged olives in the picture, so I took the plunge and made the one and a half hour drive. Nearly all my trips to the Deckers area since the Heyman Fire were disappointing, but I was hopeful that the fishery recovered, and I expected reduced fishing pressure on a Wednesday.

The weather was gorgeous for human beings with the morning temperature in the low seventies and a clear bluebird sky. Unfortunately these conditions are typically not popular with cold water fish. When I departed the stream at 2:30, the thermometer reading on the dashboard registered 84 degrees. It would have been a great day to wet wade, but the pockets on my fishing shirt were not large enough to contain my fly box, and I had no alternative places to stash the flies besides the bib pocket on my waders.

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Starting Point on the South Platte River

My first stop was approximately one half mile below the Scraggy View picnic area, where the river made a ninety degree bend and flowed below a small narrow island. I began fishing with a tan pool toy and a salvation nymph and beadhead hares ear, but after fifteen minutes and no interest, I made a change. I removed the hares ear and replaced it with a size 22 sunken trico. Given the warm temperatures I assumed that the trico hatch and spinner fall occurred early in the morning, but I speculated that some laggards remained in the drift. As I was configuring my line, a young tuber appeared at the bend, and then she paused across and slightly above my position. I was surprised to encounter a tuber at 11AM on a Wednesday, and I suspected that she was waiting for friends before continuing.

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Upside Down Pool Toy

As this observation was taking place, I saw my hopper disappear, and I quickly reacted with a lift. My rod bent and the inertia of my hook set brought a thrashing brown trout to the surface, but just as suddenly it escaped and returned to the deep run. Given the brevity of the hookup, I assumed that it grabbed the tiny sunken trico.

I was now anxious to move up to the deep juicy run where the currents merged below the small island at the bend, but as I took my first step, three more tubers appeared from the left braid. Two teenage girls were balanced on the one tube, and they towed a second flotation device. Twenty yards behind them was a lucky young boy, and he splashed and floated right over the deep run that I anxiously planned to probe in pursuit of his cute friends.

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The Channel Away from the Road

The tubers gathered across from me and went on their way, as I waded along the bank and approached the area below the island. I was not deterred by the disturbance and spent ten minutes covering the deep seam, but the fish apparently were affected, and my casts went unheeded. Since the swimmers floated along the left channel, I elected to work my way up the right braid, although it was shallower and much less enticing to this fly fisherman. I made long casts to the deeper areas next to the bank, which contained tall grasses with the expectation that some brown trout might lurk intending to ambush wayward terrestrials. My premise was solid, but the vision never materialized on August 17.

By 12:15 I reached a wide shallow section of the river that was unappealing as a fish holding area, so I crossed and climbed a steep bank and returned to the car. I decided to move to another location farther upstream, and the choice resulted in pulling into a roadside parking space next to the oxbow section of the river. The river at this juncture makes a large loop away from the road and then returns below a campground. I ate my lunch in the shade of some ponderosa pines, and then I gathered my fishing gear and hiked along the top of the knoll that causes the river to make a large double bend.

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Oxbow Area

I began fishing on the northeast side of the loop, but once again the river seemed to be devoid of hungry fish. I moved up a bit and swapped the sunken trico for a RS2, and finally in a relatively shallow run behind an exposed rock a small brown trout slurped the surface fly. Or at least that is what I thought, until I played the fish and discovered that the trailing fly hooked the fish in the cheek. A second opportunity to move the fish counter was squandered.

The next segment of the river at the tip of the oxbow was very attractive, as the main current of the river ran against the far bank and created a huge deep run and shelf pool. I waded to the eastern side and began working my way through this stretch with renewed optimism. I made long casts and fixed my gaze on the hopper, as it bobbed along the current seam and through ideal trout holding areas. Finally I spotted a sudden dip and set the hook, and I was connected with a decent fish. I played it cautiously as it streaked back and forth several times, and then as I applied side pressure to bring it closer to me, the fly hurtled from the mouth of the finned resistance and crashed against the rock ledge wall behind me. Needless to say I was disappointed and discouraged simultaneously. My one brief glimpse suggested that the fighting fish was a thirteen or fourteen inch rainbow.

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Soft Hackle Emerger

I moved on and fished the remainder of the juicy shelf pool, but my casts proved fruitless. A significant amount of loose aquatic vegetation floated by me, and this suggested that scuds were knocked loose and floated in the drift. I reacted to this theory by knotting an orange scud to my line, but it also was completely ignored. In a last ditch effort to solve the South Platte puzzle I replaced the orange scud with a size 20 soft hackle emerger, but this only served to temporarily boost my optimism.

The next area was marginal and characterized by a wide shallow streambed, so I quickly skipped around it until I stumbled across four fishermen. This group appeared to be two guides with their clients, and after greeting them with a hello, I circled around them. I was now back where the river flowed along the road, so I crossed and climbed the steep bank and returned to the Santa Fe. It was quite warm, and the adverse fishing weather seemed permanent, so I cut my losses and quit.

It has been quite a while since I was skunked, but Wednesday was one of those days. I had a few opportunities to land a fish, but three trout engagements in three and a half hours of fishing is a testament to difficult fishing conditions. The scenery was a positive, and I experimented with my new camera a bit. but overall Wednesday was not one of my better experiences. The August doldrums are clearly the new order.

Fish Landed: 0

South Platte River – 06/13/2016

Time: 9:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Downstream from Eleven Mile Canyon.

South Platte River 06/13/2016 Photo Album

Upon my return from Pennsylvania and Vermont, I was too busy catching up to consider fishing. The second week of June usually offers few options, as the rivers and streams of Colorado are usually swollen with high muddy run off, and given the average snow pack of the past winter, I had no reason to believe 2016 would be any different. By Sunday, however, I made solid headway on my list of backlogged “to do’s”, so I decided to take a peek at the DWR streamflow data.

As I expected, most flowing water options were not in play, but I was surprised to see that the South Platte River near Lake George displayed flows in the seventies. Two other tailwaters that stood out as possibilities for a fishing trip were the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir and the Taylor River, but these destinations required longer trips and possibly an overnight stay. I made plans to visit the South Platte River once again on Monday, June 13. This represented my fifth trip to the Park County river, and the previous four were quite successful.

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Rocks and Pockets

I arrived at the river by 9AM and quickly assembled my Sage four weight rod. I took some time to review my fly box since I put a major dent in my fat Alberts in Pennsylvania. My boat box, which I transport in the car on every fishing trip, did not contain additional fat Alberts, so I filled some open slots with pool toys and Charlie boy hoppers. By 9:30 I was ready to attack the river, and I began with a tan pool toy as my top fly, and beneath that I dangled a salvation nymph and beadhead hares ear. In the first half hour I managed to land a small rainbow and slightly larger brown trout on the hares ear, but some huge dark clouds appeared on the western horizon, and they were accompanied by the distant rumble of thunder.

By 10AM some rain began to fall from the sky and the thunder was closer, so I quickly found a place to wade to shore and climbed a bank to the Santa Fe. Just as I arrived the clouds opened, and I removed my gear and climbed into the drivers’ seat, where I watched sheets of rain descend for ten minutes. Once the precipitation dwindled to a light sprinkle, I prepared to resume my quest for trout by exchanging the pool toy for a fat Albert with a green floss body. The fat Albert is a very buoyant fly, and I wanted a top fly that could support two size 16 beadhead nymphs. I also removed the salvation nymph and replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa. Believe it or not, I found a small size 16 natural caddis with a gray body inside the car while I was waiting out the rain, and I seemed to recall that an emerald pupa sometimes matures into an adult with a gray body.

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Nice Fish Landed in the Morning

I returned to my point of exit prior to the storm and began working my way upstream Suddenly the sky turned blue and the sun reappeared, and fish began to attack my nymphs. By noon I registered ten fish landed including the two prior to the storm, and all but two hammered the hares ear while the others favored the emerald caddis pupa. I approached the river with the same fast paced wade and cast strategy that worked in previous South Platte visits. The fish were smaller on average, but several of the first ten were husky twelve inch specimens.

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Deep Coloration on This Brown Trout

After lunch I once again resumed my upstream migration, and this period was the most interesting phase of my day. Again some clouds blocked the sun, and this low light triggered several types of mayflies to emerge. I noticed small blue winged olives as well as a few that could be imitated by size sixteen flies. I was also delighted to view a smattering of pale morning duns. Generally PMD’s appear in decent numbers in the Deckers section of the South Platte in the middle of June, so I was quite pleased to see these size sixteen mayflies in the Lake George area on June 13.

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Indian Paintbrush

The PMD observance caused me to rethink my fly alignment, and I swapped the emerald caddis pupa for a juju emerger. I conjectured that this medium olive creation would cover the larger BWO and the pale morning duns. In fact, I did land a couple trout that snatched the juju on the swing, but the hares ear continued to outproduce the second subsurface option. As I continued moving, the number of pale morning duns began to exceed BWO’s, so I once again made a swap and added a hare nation in place of the juju emerger. The hare nation is intended to copy the nymph stage of pale morning duns, and it did chip in with a few takers, but clearly the hares ear was preferred.

As these mayflies preoccupied my thoughts, the sky once again grew extremely dark and the sounds of thunder echoed across the valley. The deep reverberations were louder than the morning percussion, so I did not delay and quickly made my way back to the car as sheets of rain began to descend. I decided to use this break in fishing to move the car upstream closer to where I expected to end my day, and by the time I parked and turned off the windshield wipers, it was nearly over. The second storm sounded worse than number one, but it was much briefer and delivered less of a wallop.

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Tail Wagging Rainbow Trout

The remainder of the afternoon continued in a manner similar to the morning and early afternoon, as I prospected all the likely pockets and runs with the three fly assemblage. At some point the hare nation seemed to be unproductive, and the very small BWO’s were still present, so I exchanged for a soft hackle emerger. This move landed me a fish or two, but the consistently favored fly was the hares ear nymph. By 3:30 I covered most of the attractive water, and once again some dark clouds appeared, although the threat of another storm was not imminent. Nevertheless I was weary from a day of aggressive wading and constant casting, so I called it quits with the fish counter resting on thirty.

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Head Shot

During the afternoon I spotted several golden stonefly adults fluttering over the water, and I was curious if the fish might react to a dry fly. Over the last twenty minutes I fished a size ten Letort hopper with a light yellow body to see if I could attract any interest from the fish, but apparently the presence of these large insects on the water is not frequent enough for the fish to be tuned in at this early stage of the season. It was worth a try for future reference.

In conclusion I enjoyed a thirty fish day near the middle of June. I must admit that the predominant size of the fish was 6-9 inches, but I estimate that at least ten were in the eleven to twelve inch range, and that is not disappointing. I assumed that I would be fishing stillwater and managed to salvage one more decent outing on flowing water. I am thankful for the opportunity.

Fish Landed: 30

South Platte River – 05/23/2016

Time: 10:15AM – 7:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon just below Springer Gulch and special regulation water

South Platte River 05/23/2016 Photo Album

My love affair with the South Platte River encountered a small rough patch on Monday. It was another solid day, but I was spoiled by the three previous visits that yielded bountiful quantities of fish and above average size.

I contacted my young friend Danny Ryan to determine whether he was available to join me, and of course I touted the phenomenal days that left me in a state of euphoria on May 12, 13 and 20. Very little arm twisting was required, and Danny texted me that he cleared his calendar and planned to join me on a trip to Eleven Mile Canyon.

I arrived at Danny’s apartment at 7:15, and this enabled us to pass through the entrance gate for Eleven Mile Recreation Area by 9:30. We were about to discover one of the factors that made Monday more challenging and less enjoyable than my previous visits. We slowly drove on the dirt road that snakes along the nine mile length of the river, and once we passed Springer Gulch, the boundary with the catch and release section, every pullout was occupied with one or two vehicles. How could this many fishermen be on the river on a Monday? Does anyone still work in this nation? I speculated with Danny that the South Platte River in South Park is the only river relatively close to Denver that is not affected by early run off, and this explained the hordes of fly fishermen swarming along the upper reaches of the river. The other explanation was that too many people are reading my blog, but I suspect that reason is not likely.

We executed a U-Turn at the parking lot below the dam and returned along the dusty dirt road toward the entrance gate. After two miles we passed the border of the special regulation water, and we continued for another .5 mile. Here we noticed that the gradient increased, and the river passed through a narrows section with huge round boulders and deep plunge pools. This lasted for a short distance, and then the stream bed opened up a bit, and we decided to park and test our skills in this more moderate canyon section.

When I opened the car door, I met a chilly blast of wind, and this weather condition would be a constant irritant over the course of the entire day except for the evening period after 4PM. I elected to wear my Adidas pullover along with my raincoat as a second layer windbreaker. There were a few brief windows of sunshine, but overcast skies and a chilly breeze predominated for most of the day. I never experienced much success fishing after a cold front moved through an area, and Monday’s weather seemed to be one of those days. Certainly the atmosphere was cooler and drier than what Steve and I faced on Friday May 20. I blame the slower action and smaller fish on the combination of more adverse weather and crowds of fishermen forcing us to accept a secondary stream section.

Nevertheless Danny and I persisted. Experimenting with fishing the unregulated portion of Eleven Mile Canyon was actually an idea I pondered on Friday, but I was reluctant to suggest it to Steve when the highly desirable segment of the catch and release was open and unoccupied. I did well in the Happy Meadows area, another section open to bait fishermen, so I was convinced that I could catch fish in the section of Eleven Mile where standard regulations applied. The crowded circumstances of Monday forced me to test my theory.

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Beautiful Brown Trout

Danny and I both began fishing with dry/dropper configurations. In my case I tied a fat Albert, ultra zug bug, and beadhead hares ear to my line; and I began to prospect all the usual locations that could harbor trout that evaded the bait and spin fishermen over the weekend. It took twenty minutes, but eventually I was on the board with a nice twelve inch brown trout. At eleven o’clock I spotted a few blue winged olives hovering over the stream, so I swapped the hares ear for a soft hackle emerger. Between our starting time of 10:15 and our lunch break at noon, I landed six trout, and all were brown trout. Three of my catch chose the soft hackle emerger as their food source, and the other three were attracted to the ultra zug bug.

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Danny Prospects a Promising Run

After lunch Danny and I continued our progress upstream, and we actually passed under the bridge at Springer Gulch and fished the very bottom section of the special regulation area up until 3PM. At this time we bumped into another fishermen, so we reversed and returned to the car. During the early afternoon session, I abandoned the soft hackle emerger, as it ceased to deliver results, and instead I reverted to the beadhead hares ear. My lineup therefore consisted of the fat Albert indicator and the ultra zug bug and beadhead hares ear. The fish counter ratcheted up to ten during this time period, and my netted fish included a husky fifteen inch rainbow. Hooking and landing this fish was clearly the highlight of my day. I angled a short cast around a huge boulder to a narrow deep slot, and after a very brief drift I lifted to make another cast. This action apparently looked like escaping food to the rainbow, and it struck the beadhead hares ear.

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Dave's Best on the Day

Once we returned to the car, we decided to make another move toward the gate, and this time we found a small pullout next to the river just southeast of the single tunnel. Once again we applied our dry/dropper technique to water that was similar to the section fished earlier. I managed to add five additional fish to my tally, but these fish were smaller on average, with one or two reaching the twelve inch measurement. Since Danny works long hours, he wished to take advantage of a rare fishing day, and this motivated us to continue fishing until 7:30.

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Beadhead Hares Ear Performed

Over the last hour I endured several refusals to the fat Albert, so I theorized that the fish were focusing their attention of surface food. In conjunction with this logic I decided to experiment with some dry flies that were more natural in appearance. I cast a light gray size 16 deer hair caddis in a nice pool with no response, and then I switched to a light olive size 12 stimulator. Neither of these options generated any interest, so apparently my hypothesis was off base. Danny meanwhile persisted with the dry/dropper arrangement and managed to net a few small fish on the hares ear and salad spinner.

In conclusion I ended my day with fifteen landed fish, and that sounds fairly decent. Consider however that I fished for nearly eight hours, and this translates to a catch rate of two fish per hour, and that is fairly average. In addition the size of the fish was beneath my experience on each of the three previous trips to the South Platte River. On a positive note I managed double digit fish on May 23, which is a decent accomplishment for a stream, when most of Colorado is in the early stages of run off. Also I spent my day in a beautiful canyon with my friend Danny who I had not fished with since March. Danny also achieved a double digit fish count day, so in retrospect it was a fun and productive day.

Trout Landed: 15

 

South Platte River – 05/20/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon near twin tunnels and then across from a picnic area outside the special regulation water.

South Platte River 05/20/2016 Photo Album

Euphoria lingered as I sat down to craft this report of my fishing trip to the South Platte River on Friday May 20. The quantity of fish landed did not compare with my experience the previous Thursday and Friday, but the quality of fish is what caused my mind to dwell on a fun day.

Two of my fishing friends had rotator cuff surgery in 2016. Steve Supple had his operation performed on March 10, and his doctor informed him that he could resume fishing three months later. Steve is right handed and his right shoulder was repaired. Steve’s wife, Judy, emailed Jane on Tuesday to inform us that Steve was ready to make his first fishing trip.

It was a week since I enjoyed fast and steady action on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and I yearned to return while flows remained in the ideal range. I suggested to Steve that we make Eleven Mile our destination, and after he checked the DWR stream flow data and determined that releases from Eleven Mile Reservoir continued to offer near ideal conditions at 75 cfs, we eagerly made plans to visit the South Platte River on Friday.

I arrived at Steve’s house in Lone Tree at 7:10, and we quickly transferred my gear to his Subaru, and we were on our way. An uneventful drive brought us to a pullout near the twin tunnels on the dirt road that borders the river at 10AM, and we waded into the river by 10:30. Steve chose to begin casting his nymphs in a gorgeous long run and pool just below a long slender island. The two channels merged at this point and created an inviting riffle and deep pool.

I meanwhile walked downstream for thirty yards to some faster water that contained numerous exposed boulders and deep pockets. This river structure was more to my liking, and I began with the usual fat Albert trailing a beadhead ultra zug bug and a beadhead hares ear. I tied ten fat Alberts this winter, and I continue to use the same one that served me during all my 2016 fishing trips since early March. I am sure it set some sort of record for hours of continuous service without breaking off or being sacrificed to a tree.

In addition to the flows being nearly ideal, the weather was similarly favorable. As we began fishing in the morning, the temperature was in the upper fifties, so I wore my fleece; but the bright sun amidst a deep blue sky quickly warmed the air until the mercury moved into the sixties. There were several periods of extensive cloud cover, but never any significant precipitation, and the gray skies enhanced the fishing conditions.

In the first half hour I methodically worked my way up the river and prospected some very appealing water without any positive results. When I reached Steve, he was on the side of the river below the road, so I approached the gorgeous deep run from the opposite bank. I made some nice drifts from the top of the run along the main center seam, and on the fifth such pass the fat Albert made a dive. I reacted with a hook set, and chaos ensued as an energized rainbow trout charged up and down the run. I maintained contact through several sudden streaks, but then the missile made an abrupt turn and shed the hook. It was fun to finally connect with a fish, but disappointment reigned with the loss of a substantial hook up.

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A Nice Fat Rainbow

Just before this sequence of events Steve landed a very spunky fourteen inch rainbow from his side of the seam on a RS2, and I paused to snap some photographs before moving on. Steve remained at the junction pool while I migrated through the right channel around the long narrow island. Quite a few nice deep pockets and runs presented themselves, and I capitalized on the attractive water by landing five trout before returning to check in with Steve at approximately 11:30. Of the five fish that felt my net, three were brown trout in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and two were rainbows. One bow was a chunky fourteen inch fish and the second striped beauty was a fifteen inch beauty although not as wide as the first one.

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Speckled Rainbow in My Net

When Steve informed me that he landed his fish on a RS2, I swapped my hares ear nymph for a soft hackle emerger, and three of the fish on the north channel nipped the emerger, and the other two grabbed the ultra zug bug. This brief morning session built my confidence that I could use my favorite dry/dropper technique to catch fish in Eleven Mile Canyon. I was impressed with the quality of the fish, and trout seemed to materialize in most of the locations where I expected to find them.

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This Rainbow Was Long But Not As Chunky as Previous

When I joined up with Steve, I learned that he landed another fish. I informed Steve that I planned to continue upstream beyond the long slow pool below some high vertical rock walls, and I committed to return by noon for lunch. The plan played out as I envisioned, and I encountered some nice faster pockets and runs above the long pool. In the remaining half hour before lunch I landed three more healthy fish including two rainbows and a brown. One of the rainbows was another feisty thirteen inch well fed specimen. Just before noon I found a nice path that scaled the steep bank and brought me back to the road just west of the second tunnel.

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Wow a Fatty

As I walked back toward the car, I met a trio of fishermen scaling the steep bank between the twin tunnels. The older of the three was struggling to climb the last ten feet as the loose gravel soil was absent of any toe holds. I offered the young gentleman on the road my wading staff, and he quickly accepted it and extended it to the struggling climber who grabbed the end. With the assistance of the young friend and the sturdy stick, the trailing fisherman finally crested the rim, and thank you’s were offered all around.

After lunch at the Subaru Steve and I decided to descend the same path that I used to return for lunch. Steve mentioned that he fished the water upstream of the second tunnel on previous trips, and he viewed it as an enjoyable area, although on many occasions it was occupied by guides and clients. We quickly gathered our rods and descended to the edge of the river, and we were pleased to see the absence of other fishermen. Steve found another juicy deep run and began to explore the depths with his indicator nymph rig.

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Brilliant Stripe and Cheeks

Meanwhile I stayed with the dry/dropper combination and quickly found some very nice deep pockets, slots and runs where the river rushed around numerous exposed boulders. The river structure was similar to the right braid from the morning, and it matched my favorite type of fly fishing playground. In the first fifteen minutes I failed to generate any interest, and blue winged olives seemed to be absent, so I reverted to the beadhead hares ear. The hares ear was all I needed on Thursday and Friday May 12 and 13, so I was convinced that the trout in the upper section of Eleven Mile would relish it as well. In addition Steve and I observed two mayflies that were size sixteen, and I had a hunch that the larger hares ear might match the nymph stage of the larger mayflies that we saw.

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I Love This Type of Water

My hunch was on target, and I began to land trout with increased regularity. Deep pockets and narrow troughs where currents merged were nearly sure things, and I grew quite confident that if I could find such places, I could extract a fish. Between lunch and 2PM I added six additional fish to my count, and nearly all were in the twelve to fifteen inch range. Rainbow trout predominated this fishing period, as they accounted for five of the six fish landed. Whereas most of the brown trout that I landed in Eleven Mile Canyon measured in the twelve to thirteen inch range, the rainbows on average were strong aggressive fish in the twelve to fifteen inch size slot. The two hours in the early afternoon of May 20 represented some of the best action of 2016. The beadhead hares ear was once again the star, as it enticed all but one of the early afternoon netted fish.

At two o’clock I wandered back to find Steve who reported slow action. He landed one trout in the initial run, but the river residents proved uncooperative after that. Since another fisherman was in view above my ending point, we decided to return to the car and then explore some water downstream outside the special regulation area. We were amazed at the number of fishermen that arrived while we were occupying prime locations near the twin tunnels, as nearly every available pullout contained one or two vehicles. After we passed Springer Gulch we drove for an additional couple miles until we reached a small picnic area on the right that contained a rest room facility. Steve parked here, and we crossed the road to examine the quality of the river. It appeared to be similar to the segments that we fished earlier in the day, so we agreed to give it another hour.

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A Surprise Cutbow

Steve took a position halfway across the river below another nice run, and I walked down the road .1 mile and then dropped down a short bank and began fishing some deep pools and pockets around large rounded protruding boulders. I moved through some exceptionally deep pools without any success, but then I reached a section where the river widened a bit, and I was able to wade and reach some very attractive places in the middle and opposite side of the river. Finally my dry/dropper technique paid dividends, and over the last hour I landed three healthy trout that averaged twelve inches. One was a cutbow and two were wild brown trout with vivid red and black spots.

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Brilliant Spots on This Wild Brown

It was just a superb day in the catch and release section of Eleven Mile Canyon. It was also certainly my best showing in the highly pressured tailwater, and I discovered that using the dry/dropper technique along with covering a lot of water yielded excellent results. I focused on faster pocket water sections because this type of structure worked well for me in the downstream areas of the South Platte the previous week. Also I continue to believe that most fishermen (fly, spinner and bait) avoid this type of water. The typical fisherman gravitates to long deep runs at the head of smooth pools. Fishing pocket water is hard work and necessitates careful wading while leaning into a forceful current. Rocks and sticks tend to grab flies and fly lines, and short drifts dictate frequent lifting and casting. All of these circumstances cause extreme fatigue on legs, elbows, shoulders and the back. Only a dedicated few attempt this style of fishing, thus this type of water is far less pressured.

I am already eager to make yet another trip to the South Platte River in the South Park area. As long as the water managers maintain flows in the 75 – 100 cfs range, exceptional fishing should continue. Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 17

 

 

 

 

South Platte River – 05/13/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Near Happy Meadows Campground.

South Platte River 05/13/2016 Photo Album

Insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results. We have all heard this proposition. Is the corollary to this, therefore, that continuing to do the same thing will yield the same result? The corollary proposition is what I set out to test on Friday May 13. The other question weighing on my thoughts was whether it was a good idea to engage in a fishing trip on Friday the 13th?

Thursday was a spectacular day on the South Platte River, and the conditions for Friday were likely to match the previous day in nearly every aspect. The high temperature was expected to be in the mid-60’s in the Lake George area and the stream flows continued to release from Eleven Mile Reservoir at a very benign 64 cfs. I had my eye on the section of the South Platte River downstream from Lake George near the Happy Meadows Campground.

I sampled this stretch one time several years ago for a few hours, and I landed eight small fish, so I knew that trout were present. The area impressed me as a haven of bait and spin fishermen, so I suspected that it received considerably more pressure than the Eleven Mile segment, and since normal regulations apply, there was a greater risk that fish were harvested. At the very least it was likely that the bigger fish were killed and consumed for table fare. Perhaps I would undertake a two plus hour drive only to discover that small fish resided in the river, but the weather and scenery would certainly compensate for a pedestrian fishing experience. Most of the other stream options along the Front Range were beginning to exhibit the higher flows related to run off conditions, so I decided to gamble on the South Platte River in the Happy Meadows Campground area.

If you read my post from Thursday, you may recall that I suffered some disappointing equipment failure, so before I departed on Friday, I decided to attempt a contrived temporary repair. The metal button on the heel of my right boot snapped off, and with no place to hook the rubber tab; it flapped, and the rear section of the sole was loose. I was concerned that this situation could worsen if the tab wedged beneath a rock, so I created an on stream solution by knotting a section of 0X monofilament through the hole in the tab and then around my ankle. This held for a few hours until I made a quick movement which caused the heavy duty mono to snap.

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Another Contrived Boot Repair Held Up Better on Friday

My new solution on Friday morning was to deploy a small bungee cord. I hooked one end of the cord through the hole in the tab and then stretched it across the front of my boot and around the other side before I hooked the other metal end of the bungee through the same hole. Voila! The bungee cord was sized perfectly and it stretched enough to hold the rubber tab taut against the heel of the boot, and thus the sole was lifted up against the mid-sole. I was pleased with my creativity, and the temporary fix did in fact bridge me through a day of fishing.

I took my time preparing for the Friday fishing venture, and therefore I departed the house by 7:40AM, and this enabled me to cruise into a narrow dirt pullout a mile or two below Happy Meadows Campground by 10AM. The air temperature was around sixty degrees with a slight breeze blowing, so I opted for a single fleece layer. It was warmer than Thursday, but it remained slightly uncomfortable without an extra layer over my fishing shirt. As was the case on Thursday I assembled my Sage four piece four weight for a day of fishing on a relatively small river.

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Cannot Wait to Drift Flies Through That Run

I could continue to describe my tactics and fly choices, but it was really a fairly simple scenario. In the opening paragraph I questioned whether continuing to do the same things would yield the same results? In addition to weather and stream flows, I utilized the same fly patterns and same tactics as Thursday, and the results were in fact quite similar. At this point I emphatically declare that the beadhead hares ear nymph is back in a big way. On Friday I slapped on the same yellow fat Albert and then added a beadhead hares ear, and I utilized my favorite dry/dropper technique to prospect all the likely runs, riffles pockets and pools; and the results attest to the effectiveness of this fly fishing strategy.

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A Beast

The fish in the South Platte River simply have a love affair with the beadhead hares ear nymph. By noon when I quit for lunch, I registered nineteen landed fish with another five or six brief hook ups that escaped. Once again the pace of fishing was insane. Admittedly the size of the fish was a bit lacking with numerous seven and eight inch fish, but there were enough twelve and thirteen inchers in the mix to keep me guessing. A few fish slurped the fat Albert on the surface, and an occasional refusal to the large buoyant indicator fly generated some frustration, but the constant effectiveness of the hares ear induced me to persist with the winning combination.

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Tiny Slot Yielded a Decent Fish

After lunch it seemed that I covered a few juicy pockets with no results, so I decided to augment my offerings. I added an ultra zug bug in the top position and moved the beadhead hares ear to the end of the three fly lineup. Whether because I moved onto better water, or because of the addition of a second fly, the action resumed at a torrid pace. Toward the late afternoon I bumped into another fisherman who was tossing live minnows in a long deep run and pool. I did not want to infringe on his space, and the water he was covering was not to my liking, so I hiked back to the car and drove upstream a half mile and then reentered the river and resumed my progression.

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Gorgeous Rainbow

The late afternoon section featured more white water and deep pockets with numerous large protruding boulders, and the ultra zug bug began to shine. I estimate that greater than 50% of the landed fish displayed the ultra zug bug in the 1.5 hour session from 2:30 until I quit at 4. In addition a higher percentage of netted fish were rainbow trout, whereas, the morning split was closer to 50/50. Several of the rainbows were very chunky thirteen and fourteen inch battlers.

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A Wide Shallow Section

Friday was another fabulous day on the South Platte River. My gamble paid off in a big way, and the hares ear nymph temporarily resumed its place at the top of Dave’s favorite fishing flies. Will this last through the summer? Stay tuned. I continued to do things the same, and the results were similar. Friday the 13th did not seem to have a negative impact on my fishing results.

Fish Landed: 58

South Platte River – 05/12/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/12/2016 Photo Album

Sometimes the stars align. Thursday represented one of the most insane fishing days I ever experienced. Did I really land sixty-two fish? Yes I did plus or minus two or three. I probably had ten to fifteen additional hooked fish that I was unable to bring to my net. The only downside was the size of the fish; but constant action, while most streams balloon with run off, is nothing to scoff at.

In addition to a great day of fishing, I received positive news on my Tuesday blood test related to my January surgery. In the grand scheme of things, that was probably greater cause for celebration than any sort of fishing accomplishment. But this is a fishing blog, so I will stick to the script.

I got off to a nice early start and arrived at the river and prepared to fish with my Sage four weight four piece rod. The air temperature was in the low 40’s, as I waded into the water, so I threw on my fleece to maintain some semblance of warmth, although I expected the temperature to rise into the sixties as the morning progressed into a sunny afternoon. The river was flowing at 64 cfs, and it looked nearly ideal. There was enough water to allow wading without requiring excessive caution, yet I could easily cross from side to side to fish attractive runs and pockets

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Gorgeous Setting

One piece of bad news that placed a small blemish on a wonderful day was the discovery of a defect in my right wading boot. Jane purchased the Korkers for me as a Christmas gift, so I only used them this season; and as I prepared to fish, I noticed that the rubber loop at the heal was dangling away from the boot. I compared the right boot to the left and realized that the button or rivet over which the rubber loop stretched was missing. Hopefully this can be repaired and is covered by the warranty. I feel like a wading boot should last more than a couple months before breaking. I took a few minutes to contrive a repair, and it lasted for roughly half my time on the water. I cut a three foot length of 0X monofilament and threaded it through the hole in the rubber loop. I then tied a loop on the other end and wrapped the line around my ankle, and finally I used the end without a loop to tie a clinch knot through the mono loop. Unfortunately there was too much play in the leader, so I then wound the slack around the boa dial until it was taut. It worked for awhile, and I was rather proud of my creativity.

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On Stream Boot Repair

To start my day of fishing I tied on a yellow fat Albert. I hoped that this would be the only fly required to dupe South Platte River trout, but unfortunately it was not the answer. Almost immediately I observed a refusal, and several juicy pockets failed to generate any interest, so I pulled up the fly and attached a beadhead hares ear on a three foot leader. This adjustment proved to be a stroke of genius, as I went on to land seventeen fish between 10:30 and my lunch break at noon. All the trout hammered the beadhead hares ear except for one gorgeous fifteen inch brown that rose and crushed the fat Albert. This was the largest brown trout I ever caught in Eleven Mile, and it was also the biggest trout landed on Thursday, May 12. The fat Albert fooled one fish on Thursday, and it was the largest of the day.

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Fat Albert Fooled This Guy

My biggest concern was that I would deplete my supply of beadhead hares ear nymphs. In the morning two broke off and one unraveled. After lunch I decided to test a different fly in case my beadhead hares ears disappeared. Why not, as my fish counter already registered seventeen fish? I replaced the hares ear with an emerald caddis pupa, and I began to prospect the attractive spots in a manner similar to my morning experience. After coming up empty in two spots that screamed fish, I concluded that the trout were selective to a hares ear nymph. Instead of exchanging the emerald caddis for the hares ear, I added it on a second dropper, so that I was fishing three flies. This would now be an experiment to see if the fish ate only the hares ear, or whether they attacked both subsurface flies.

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Beadhead Hares Ear Ruled

Guess what happened? Nearly all the fish landed in the afternoon grabbed the hares ear. It was amazing. In nearly every deep pocket, moderate riffle and deep run, a fish materialized from nowhere to snatch the hares ear as it tumbled along behind the fat Albert. In many cases I could observe fish move a foot or more to intercept the simple gray beadhead nymph. At one point I removed the emerald caddis pupa because it did not seem to be serving any purpose, but when I then fished with only the beadhead hares ear, it seemed that my catch rate deteriorated. I concluded that the two fly combination somehow attracted more fish, even though they were predisposed to take the hares ear

Instead of an emerald caddis pupa, I elected to knot an ultra zug bug to my line as the top fly, and this simple nymph did hook four or five fish. By 3:30 I reached fifty fish, and two more hares ears unraveled as the thread was severed by the repeated attacks of sharp teeth. Quite a few additional hares ears remained in my MFC fly box, but I once again decided to experiment. Over the course of the afternoon, the sky clouded up often, and during these gray periods I witnessed a fair number of blue winged olives. I never bothered to switch to a BWO imitation because the fish seemed to relish the hares ear, and who was I to tamper with success? But now I removed a beadhead soft hackle emerger from the fly box and added it to my line below the ultra zug bug. The soft hackle emerger accounted for four or five fish in the late afternoon time period, but it also generated many more long distance releases perhaps due to the smaller hook size.

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Pink Stripe

Fly fishing on Thursday was outstanding and reduced to its simplest form. The beadhead hares ear was what the fish wanted, and I probably could have landed more fish if I yielded to their preference. Instead I over analyzed and experimented with other patterns. Since fly selection was a no brainer, the only challenge was wading and moving quickly from place to place. It was important to recognize the water types that yielded fish. The best spots were deep narrow runs or V-shaped pockets where currents merged. If I allowed the flies to drift beyond the sweet spot and then lifted, I hooked numerous larger than average fish from this type of structure. Riffles over a rocky bottom with moderate depth were also productive, and deep pockets longer that five feet yielded many fish as well.

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Some Nice Water Ahead

It was a blast. I love this sort of fast paced action. I covered more than a mile of the river, and in most cases I found fish where I expected to find fish. Hopefully the ideal flows will last a bit longer so I can enjoy another opportunity to fish the South Platte River.

Fish Landed: 62