South Platte River – 05/06/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/06/2018 Photo Album

After having stitches removed from an incision on my leg on Friday, I was anxious to undertake a fishing trip that required more aggressive wading. A three day trip to the Frying Pan was on my schedule for May 8 – 10, and Monday was, therefore, reserved for packing. Sunday was the best and last date to sneak in a trip before my journey to the tailwater below Reudi Reservoir. I hoped to make a longer trip and considered the Eagle River, Arkansas River and South Platte River; but I ultimately selected the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. According to the DWR web site the flows were in the 88 CFS range, and a tailwater is much more dependable than large freestones near the early stages of snow melt. Relatively warm temperatures in Colorado on Sunday augmented my concern regarding early stage run off.

Delicious Section

I arrived at a wide parking spot along the dirt road that borders the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon by 9:45, and after pulling on my waders and assembling my Sage One five weight I was on the water by 10AM. I began my day with a size 10 Chernobyl ant trailing a beadhead hares ear nymph and sparkle wing RS2, but a half hour of aggressive fishing failed to yield positive results. One fish swirled at the Chernobyl, but that was the extent of action. I sighted several fish during this time, and they totally ignored my offerings, so I concluded that I needed to get deeper.

Sparkle Wing RS2 Performed Well

I removed the three fly dry/dropper configuration and replaced it with a strike indicator, split shot, and two nymphs. I replaced the hares ear with an emerald caddis pupa and retained the sparkle wing RS2. During the remainder of the morning I worked my way upstream and prospected the nymphs in runs with reasonable depth, and I landed three trout. Two of the netted fish were dull rainbows, which I suspected to be stockers, but one was a decent wild brown trout in the thirteen inch range. All the morning catches snatched the sparkle wing RS2.

On Display

First Fish Might Be a Stocker Rainbow

I expected the temperature to rise to comfortable levels, but a large layer of gray clouds blocked the sun’s rays in the late morning and early afternoon. As noon approached I moved within view of my car, so I exited the river and returned to the Santa Fe to add a layer and eat my sandwich, carrots and yogurt cup. After lunch I returned to my exit point and resumed my steady upstream migration. At some point I tangled my tip in a tree branch, as I walked on the bank, and in the process of unraveling the line I broke off the two nymphs. I used this as an opportunity to swap the emerald caddis pupa for an ultra zug bug.

Rainbow Sag

By 1:30 I began to observe a light blue winged olive hatch, but the emergence was very sparse and never sparked more than a few sporadic rises. I persisted with the deep nymphing approach and built the fish count from three to ten by 3:30. During one half hour period the trout seemed to escalate their aggressiveness, and I enjoyed my best run of catches on the day. The ultra zug bug accounted for three afternoon trout, and the remainder savored the RS2. The most reliable technique was an up and across cast followed by a drift along a current seam opposite my position. In runs with sufficient depth a trout frequently nabbed one of the nymphs, just as they began to lift or swing on the downstream portion of the drift. In addition to the landed fish I suffered at least five temporary hook ups. I attribute the worse than normal landing ratio to the diminished hooking capability of the small size 20 RS2.

Probably Best Fish of the Day

At 3:30 I climbed the bank and ambled back down the dirt road to a point just below a tunnel. On my way upstream I noted a very nice deep run and pool with a few sporadic risers, so I pledged to check the spot out on the return route. I paused along the road and surveyed the pool for a minute or two and noticed two dimples near the tail. I decided to abandon the dry/dropper and made one last attempt to dupe a trout with a dry fly. Actually I opted for two dry flies, as I tied a size 14 deer hair caddis to my line and then added a size 22 CDC BWO on an eighteen inch dropper.

Tunnel Pool

I made three or four casts, and a small fish refused the caddis twice. I did not bargain for late day frustration. I used the caddis as an indicator, so I could track the tiny BWO, but now the fish were distracted by the lead fly and ignored the main dish. I persisted with two more casts, and the second drift for some unexplained reason struck the fancy of a ten inch rainbow, as it aggressively darted to the surface and smashed the deer hair impostor. After I released the only dry fly victim of the day, I fired some additional casts to the faster run, but the flies were ignored, so I reeled up my line and returned to the car and prepared to drive back to Denver.

Sunday proved to be a comfortable day from a weather perspective, and I managed to avoid the crowds by fishing in the section of the river that is not managed as catch and release. I registered a double digit fish count, and had I converted a higher portion of hook ups, I could have posted a total in the high teens. The largest fish was thirteen inches, so size was a bit lacking, but given the sparse hatch I was pleased with my Sunday results.

Fish Landed: 11


3 thoughts on “South Platte River – 05/06/2018

  1. That’s a nice day of fishing. I wonder how the algae is there now. I was on the South Platte 8 days ago and it was hard to fish. Seems every cast caught the green slime. Was I fishing too deep? Even when I used a Thingamabobber set at 10inces above my top fly I still caught the bottom. How do you prevent that when you have your dropper 18” below your fly?

    • Dave,
      I was there last Sunday, and there were occasional clumps of algae, but I did not view it as a serious problem. I estimate that I had to pull algae off one or both flies when I was nymphing about one out of every ten drifts. It was a bigger problem when they dragged across a rock that contained that gray-tan slimmy stuff. I focused on deep runs with faster moving current, and this helped to some degree to avoid dragging bottom excessively. Not sure what to tell you. It is definitely more fun when the fish are feeding on top and you can throw dries.

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