Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: Eleven Mile Canyon
The flows on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon hovered in the 75 cfs range, and I was eager to make another trip to one of my favorite Colorado fishing destinations. The weather forecast anticipated high temperatures in the upper seventies in Denver, and this translated to a pleasant day in Eleven Mile Canyon. Jane’s calendar was open, so she agreed to join me on the two plus hour drive. The only negative was a gradually expanding sore throat that was draining my energy.
We arrived at a parking space along the river at 11AM, and I quickly prepared for a day of fishing with my Sage four weight rod. I chose to begin my fishing adventure in the downstream portion of the canyon, since it was readily apparent that Friday was a popular day on the South Platte River for Colorado fly fishermen. In other words many pullouts were already occupied, and that condition would only worsen, as one proceeded toward the special regulation water and the dam. For several years now I harbored a contrarian belief that labeling a section of water special regulation actually attracts more crowds and improves the fishing in the water open to bait fishermen by reducing the pressure in the water open to all types of fishing. On Friday I planned to test my theory.
Friday in Eleven Mile Canyon did in fact prove to be a very pleasant day with temperatures climbing into the upper sixties. In addition the river tumbled along at 75 cfs, and it was extremely clear. The price for these nearly ideal conditions, of course, was the hordes of fishermen who were lured to the South Platte. While I busied myself preparing to fish, Jane embarked on a short hike to investigate the area upstream. Later in the afternoon she completed a bike ride to the dam and back, and she confirmed that heavy crowds were present in the special regulation section.
I began my quest for trout with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph, and initially I covered some relatively shallow runs and riffles near the car. I spooked three of four fish before I climbed back up on the bank and circled around a slow moving pool. When I approached the river once again, I paused and observed quite a few fish in the pool, and I made some drifts with the dry/dropper combination to no avail.
Next I moved to the top of the pool, where faster water spilled over some rocks and then curled around an exposed boulder. Here I could see additional medium sized trout holding in the deep trough below the drop off. My flies were being ignored, and I spotted a solitary rise, so I removed the salvation and replaced it with a RS2. This did the trick, and I landed a twelve inch brown trout just below the exposed boulder, and then in the faster water that sluiced between some rocks at the head of the pool, the fat Albert dipped, and I connected with a fine thirteen inch rainbow and managed to guide it into my net. This beauty also inhaled the RS2.
Jane returned from her hike at 12:15, so I returned to the car and grabbed my lunch bag, and then we sat on the grassy bank and munched our snacks. During lunch I spotted three fairly regular risers across from my perch on the grass, so after I retrieved my rod, I removed the dry/dropper set up and tied a size 20 CDC BWO to my line. I positioned myself downstream from the area of the three risers, and focused my attention on the lower fish first. This foray into dry fly fishing was futile, so I shifted my attention to the fish that rose fairly regularly next to an eddy along the far bank. This required some fairly long casts, but on the third effort, a bulge appeared on my fly, and I set the hook only to despair, when the tiny fly released after a momentary hook up.
I retreated to the bank along the road, and then I walked to the tail of the pool and crossed to the opposite bank. I planned to get above the sippers in the pool, so I could employ the downstream drift technique that served me well on a previous trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. The best I could accomplish with this ploy was a refusal by a trout right next to the bank on a twenty-five foot downstream drift. I finally surrendered to the educated fish in the slow pool, and I crossed again at the tail and advanced along the road to the point where I exited for lunch.
For the remainder of the afternoon I reverted to the three fly dry/dropper approach featuring the yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph, and RS2. Toward the end of the day I exchanged the RS2 for a beadhead soft hackle emerger. The sky was mostly blue and sunny, but occasionally some large clouds blocked the sun’s warm rays, and this seemed to provoke a very sparse BWO emergence. I covered quite a bit of water in the afternoon, and I managed to add three additional brown trout to my fish count. Two browns were very nice wild fish in the thirteen inch range, and the last fish was a feisty ten incher. The nicest brown on the day snatched the hares ear as it tumbled through some riffles of moderate depth. In addition to the landed fish, I experienced temporary connections with three fish, but I snapped off two flies on one, and the others managed to shake free before I could bring them close to my net.
By three o’clock I lost my confidence and interest. Jane moved the car to a picnic area upstream from where we began, and I reached that point. I walked beyond the long smooth pool above the parking lot and prospected some faster moving glides and runs for another twenty minutes, and then I returned to the car and found Jane in her chair and ready to make the return trip.
I was feeling a bit under the weather, and that affected my energy level and consequently my approach. I dwelled too long in the smooth pool across from our lunch position, and this period resulted in zero catches. On the plus side it was a perfect spring day, the surroundings were gorgeous, the leaves were budding out on the trees, and I shared the canyon environment with my lovely wife. The five fish I landed were all energetic wild fish, and I was outdoors in Colorado. Life could not be much better.
Fish Landed: 5