South Platte River – 03/14/2023

Time: 11:15AM – 3:15PM

Location: Deckers

South Platte River 03/14/2023 Photo Album

How can a river be crowded, yet not allow me to catch a single fish? Did the other anglers experience more success?

The weather forecast predicted another brief temperature spike in the sixties in Denver, so I made plans for a second day of fishing in the 2023 season. I considered the Arkansas River, the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and the South Platte River at Deckers. Because Deckers represented a shorter drive, and the air temperatures were moderately higher than Eleven Mile, I made Deckers my choice.

With the time change on Sunday, the temperature took longer to rise to comfortable levels, so I took my time on Tuesday morning and did not depart until 9:30AM. This enabled me to arrive at my chosen destination by 11AM, and I was on the river fishing by 11:15AM. I was surprised at the number of vehicles occupying the pullouts along the river, and fishermen were spaced out for the entire distance, before I stopped.


The air temperature was in the low fifties when I began, so I wore my light down coat, my raincoat, and my billed hat with ear flaps. The river was flowing along at 182 CFS, and the clarity was perfect. I began below the downstream border of the special regulation section, but I encountered two fishermen near the ninety degree bend, and circled around them, until I was in the section, where the river flowed from east to west. I explored a short thirty yard length, before another young angler cut in above me. I glanced at my watch and noted that it was nearly noon, so I climbed the bank and returned to my car for lunch.

Angler Cut in Right Above Me

During the forty-five minute morning fishing session, I deployed an indicator and split shot rig. Initially I used an apricot otter egg and zebra midge, and after a lack of success I switched to a San Juan worm and salad spinner. None of these flies provoked action, and I spotted only one twelve inch fish, as it darted from cover along the bank, as I approached the river.

After lunch I moved downstream to three sections outside the special regulation area, and I failed to land a single fish. I stuck with the indicator and split shot at the first and second spots, but I swapped the San Juan worm for a salvation nymph, and I modified the end fly from the midge pupa to a classic RS2. This combination was ignored as consistently as the first two pairings.

Nice Deep Run

The third afternoon stop featured a series of nice pockets that bordered the western bank, so I elected to change my approach to a dry/dropper method. I removed the indicator and split shot and substituted a size 8 yellow fat Albert, but I retained the salvation nymph and RS2. I hoped that the three fly combination would attract interest in the small bankside pools and runs of moderate depth. The strategy never attracted so much as a look or refusal, but I persisted with it at my last stop.

Fourth Spot

My confidence in the last two hours of fishing was rock bottom, and I rarely feel as futile, as I did on Tuesday. I saw no insects nor was I able to spot a single trout in spite of nearly ideal visibility. Several times I paused on the high bank along the road to scan deep troughs and pools, but I never spotted the outline or shadow of a fish.

A Favorite Pool Failed Me

By 3:15PM I could no longer contain my boredom, so I stripped in my line and returned to the car. I never saw another angler landing a fish, although I was focused primarily on my own pursuit of trout and did not pay much attention to others. Some adverse weather is predicted for Wednesday, so I will pause my fly fishing for a bit, until more spring-like weather returns. I suspect I made the wrong choice for my destination on Tuesday in favor of mild temperatures and a shorter drive. In spite of the lack of fish, the weather was delightful, and I was present in a beautiful locale.

Fish Landed: 0