Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM
Location: Deckers area
South Platte River 11/01/2022 Photo Album
After a cold week with no fly fishing opportunities and a visit to the physical therapist resulting from groin and leg pain, I was exceedingly anxious to return to a river for mental relaxation. I find that total focus on the enterprise of catching fish is a therapeutic activity to eliminate stressful thoughts. The high temperature was forecast to reach the upper seventies in Denver, and this translated to the sixties in the South Platte River drainage. I chose the South Platte as my destination due to lower elevation and a higher ratio of rainbow trout compared to other streams along the Front range. My remaining decision was which section of the South Platte to visit. The flows at Lake George were 175 CFS and the flows farther down river at Trumbull were 134 CFS. I had more confidence that I could enjoy success at the lower levels, so I made the drive to the Deckers area on Tuesday morning.
As I turned on to the river road at Nighthwak, I decided to check out the upper special regulation section from Deckers to Scraggy View. This turned out to be an eye opener, as I was astounded by the number of vehicles occupying every available parking space. How could there be so many anglers on a Tuesday; a weekday in November? I suppose the favorable weather and proximity to Denver and Colorado Springs were the explanation.
At any rate, I made a U-turn at Deckers and reversed my tour to the open water below the special regulation section. Parking spaces were available, but a fair number of fishermen apparently copied my thought process of moving downstream away from the crowds. My extra survey of the upper section delayed my arrival, so I decided to consume my lunch before engaging in my highly anticipated fly fishing endeavor. After lunch I rigged my recently repaired Sage One five weight, and once I was prepared, I hiked down the dirt road to a stretch with faster current around large boulders to begin my quest for autumn trout.
I began my effort with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, a size 16 salvation nymph and a sparkle wing RS2. Between noon and 3PM I moved upstream at a steady pace and cast the three fly dry/dropper to all the likely trout holding spots. During this three hour time frame I landed two rainbows and one brown trout. The largest was a rainbow of around twelve inches, and the other rainbow and brown were in the seven to ten inch range. In addition to the three netted trout, I experienced temporary connections with three other fish. The fly fishing on Tuesday was not exactly a torrid affair. In fact, it was quite slow. During this time I broke off a couple RS2’s and switched between a sparkle wing and classic version. For the top fly I concluded that I needed more weight to place my drifts nearer to the stream bottom, so I paused to consider options. Initially I was prepared to grab a weighted 20 incher, and although it certainly would have provided ballast to sink the RS2, I suspected it was not a menu item for South Platte residents.
Surely spawning was in progress by now on the tailwater drainage, and wouldn’t rainbow trout take advantage of drifting brown trout eggs? Why not give an egg fly a try? I never tested egg flies other than early season trips to the North Platte River below Grey Reef. I inspected my fleece wallet and spotted four egg flies and plucked one constructed with soft Otter egg material with a white fibrous veil. I replaced the salvation with the egg fly and kept the RS2 in place and resumed casting. On the first couple drifts I noticed that the highly visible peach-colored egg was floating six inches below the surface, and I desired a deeper bottom bouncing presentation, so I crimped a small split shot to the line just above the egg. My offering now consisted of a tan pool toy hopper, peach soft egg with a tiny split shot above it, and a sparkle wing RS2.
The Run Ahead
This combination created some bumps and a temporary connection, and these encounters held my interest, but the egg and RS2 ploy was not a revelation of November fishing success. The few bumps, however, prompted me to persist, and I moved around a ninety degree bend and began to fish a section that featured faster, deep runs and pockets. I picked up my pace and allotted three to five casts to each targeted location, until I arrived at the upper section, just before the river made another ninety degree bend to the right. Here a nice long run curled around the corner and continued for thirty yards parallel to the road before tumbling over rocks. Next to the current, that was easily noticeable by the bubble line, there was a fairly wide slow-moving shelf pool that displayed four to five feet of depth.
Home of Hook-Jawed Beauty
I launched a long cast to the soft band of water next to the bubble line, and I thought I saw a rise to the hopper and swiftly elevated my Sage One to set the hook. The set was accurate, and a very respectable trout began to dive and thrash, as it attempted to disengage from my fly. Initially I thought that the fighter was foul hooked, but as the battle continued, I could feel the main pull from the mouth, and once the hook-jawed brown rested in my net, it was clear that the egg fly was embedded in the corner of its mouth. What a shock to land a sixteen inch brown on an egg fly late in my day! I snapped a gallery of photos of my fish of the day and prepared to fish out the long run before calling it a day.
Love the Orange Fins
I waded fifteen feet, so that I could cover the midsection of the long narrow shelf pool, and I once again launched some long casts to the area three feet to the left of the bubble line. Whoa! The hopper dipped suddenly, and I set the hook, and I was elated to connect with a second hook-jawed brown trout that also chomped the soft egg. I congratulated myself on my good fortune, but at the same time I began to wonder how many positive fishing outings I missed through my fly fishing career by not defaulting to egg flies? This brown was every bit as fat and mature as the previous, and I snapped off a few shots to document my success.
Home of Number Two
I was about to turn around and hike back to the nearby car, but I observed a nice wide riffle section in the center of the river just below the right turn. Earlier casts to these sorts of areas were mostly futile, but I decided that this would be my end of day prospecting. Some glare on the surface made tracking the hopper for the first five feet difficult, but the fly was easily observable over the bottom two-thirds of the riffle. I executed five fruitless drifts, and I was about to quit, when I initiated cast number six. Just as the hopper emerged from the glare, I spotted an aggressive slurp that created a small wave, and I raised my rod with a solid hook set. The recipient of the hook prick immediately curled its body and surfaced, so that I could see the wide pink stripe of a rainbow, but before I could even consider celebrating, the brute broke off the hopper and the egg fly and the RS2. It was a clean sweep, and I used this disappointing turn of events to amble back to the car. I reeled up my line, and when I inspected the end, I noted the telltale pigtail curl of a malfunctioning knot.
Tuesday on the South Platte River was a slow and disappointing fly fishing adventure, until my persistence paid off with two very respectable brown trout and an escaped rainbow. The unanticipated effectiveness of the egg fly was very gratifying, and I have already added tying egg flies to my winter fly tying agenda. Five trout in 3.5 hours is a below average catch rate, but the weather was perfect for the first day of November, and I found some space that contained nice trout to entertain me. November 1 was a success in my book.
Fish Landed: 5