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

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Gorgeous Setting” type=”image” alt=”P5110004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

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.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”On Stream Boot Repair” type=”image” alt=”P5110001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

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.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Fat Albert Fooled This Guy” type=”image” alt=”P5110009.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

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.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Beadhead Hares Ear Ruled” type=”image” alt=”P5120017.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

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.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Pink Stripe” type=”image” alt=”P5120016.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

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.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Some Nice Water Ahead” type=”image” alt=”P5110014.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

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


3 thoughts on “South Platte River – 05/12/2016

  1. Dave – so happy you had this epic day. Thanks for continuing to share your experiences. I’ve been getting out a fair amount in PA… Delaware, Lehigh and the Broadhead. Your final paragraphs describing where you were finding fish was right on. In retrospect, very similar to what I was experiencing with my nymphing on the Lehigh and Broadhead.

    Say hello to Jane. Very glad to hear some of the other news in your entry.

    Be well.

    Dave L

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