South Platte River – 05/13/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Near Happy Meadows Campground.

South Platte River 05/13/2016 Photo Album

Insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results. We have all heard this proposition. Is the corollary to this, therefore, that continuing to do the same thing will yield the same result? The corollary proposition is what I set out to test on Friday May 13. The other question weighing on my thoughts was whether it was a good idea to engage in a fishing trip on Friday the 13th?

Thursday was a spectacular day on the South Platte River, and the conditions for Friday were likely to match the previous day in nearly every aspect. The high temperature was expected to be in the mid-60’s in the Lake George area and the stream flows continued to release from Eleven Mile Reservoir at a very benign 64 cfs. I had my eye on the section of the South Platte River downstream from Lake George near the Happy Meadows Campground.

I sampled this stretch one time several years ago for a few hours, and I landed eight small fish, so I knew that trout were present. The area impressed me as a haven of bait and spin fishermen, so I suspected that it received considerably more pressure than the Eleven Mile segment, and since normal regulations apply, there was a greater risk that fish were harvested. At the very least it was likely that the bigger fish were killed and consumed for table fare. Perhaps I would undertake a two plus hour drive only to discover that small fish resided in the river, but the weather and scenery would certainly compensate for a pedestrian fishing experience. Most of the other stream options along the Front Range were beginning to exhibit the higher flows related to run off conditions, so I decided to gamble on the South Platte River in the Happy Meadows Campground area.

If you read my post from Thursday, you may recall that I suffered some disappointing equipment failure, so before I departed on Friday, I decided to attempt a contrived temporary repair. The metal button on the heel of my right boot snapped off, and with no place to hook the rubber tab; it flapped, and the rear section of the sole was loose. I was concerned that this situation could worsen if the tab wedged beneath a rock, so I created an on stream solution by knotting a section of 0X monofilament through the hole in the tab and then around my ankle. This held for a few hours until I made a quick movement which caused the heavy duty mono to snap.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Another Contrived Boot Repair Held Up Better on Friday” type=”image” alt=”P5130034.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

My new solution on Friday morning was to deploy a small bungee cord. I hooked one end of the cord through the hole in the tab and then stretched it across the front of my boot and around the other side before I hooked the other metal end of the bungee through the same hole. Voila! The bungee cord was sized perfectly and it stretched enough to hold the rubber tab taut against the heel of the boot, and thus the sole was lifted up against the mid-sole. I was pleased with my creativity, and the temporary fix did in fact bridge me through a day of fishing.

I took my time preparing for the Friday fishing venture, and therefore I departed the house by 7:40AM, and this enabled me to cruise into a narrow dirt pullout a mile or two below Happy Meadows Campground by 10AM. The air temperature was around sixty degrees with a slight breeze blowing, so I opted for a single fleece layer. It was warmer than Thursday, but it remained slightly uncomfortable without an extra layer over my fishing shirt. As was the case on Thursday I assembled my Sage four piece four weight for a day of fishing on a relatively small river.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Cannot Wait to Drift Flies Through That Run” type=”image” alt=”P5120026.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I could continue to describe my tactics and fly choices, but it was really a fairly simple scenario. In the opening paragraph I questioned whether continuing to do the same things would yield the same results? In addition to weather and stream flows, I utilized the same fly patterns and same tactics as Thursday, and the results were in fact quite similar. At this point I emphatically declare that the beadhead hares ear nymph is back in a big way. On Friday I slapped on the same yellow fat Albert and then added a beadhead hares ear, and I utilized my favorite dry/dropper technique to prospect all the likely runs, riffles pockets and pools; and the results attest to the effectiveness of this fly fishing strategy.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Beast” type=”image” alt=”P5130038.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The fish in the South Platte River simply have a love affair with the beadhead hares ear nymph. By noon when I quit for lunch, I registered nineteen landed fish with another five or six brief hook ups that escaped. Once again the pace of fishing was insane. Admittedly the size of the fish was a bit lacking with numerous seven and eight inch fish, but there were enough twelve and thirteen inchers in the mix to keep me guessing. A few fish slurped the fat Albert on the surface, and an occasional refusal to the large buoyant indicator fly generated some frustration, but the constant effectiveness of the hares ear induced me to persist with the winning combination.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Tiny Slot Yielded a Decent Fish” type=”image” alt=”P5120033.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch it seemed that I covered a few juicy pockets with no results, so I decided to augment my offerings. I added an ultra zug bug in the top position and moved the beadhead hares ear to the end of the three fly lineup. Whether because I moved onto better water, or because of the addition of a second fly, the action resumed at a torrid pace. Toward the late afternoon I bumped into another fisherman who was tossing live minnows in a long deep run and pool. I did not want to infringe on his space, and the water he was covering was not to my liking, so I hiked back to the car and drove upstream a half mile and then reentered the river and resumed my progression.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Gorgeous Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P5120030.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The late afternoon section featured more white water and deep pockets with numerous large protruding boulders, and the ultra zug bug began to shine. I estimate that greater than 50% of the landed fish displayed the ultra zug bug in the 1.5 hour session from 2:30 until I quit at 4. In addition a higher percentage of netted fish were rainbow trout, whereas, the morning split was closer to 50/50. Several of the rainbows were very chunky thirteen and fourteen inch battlers.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Wide Shallow Section” type=”image” alt=”P5130037.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Friday was another fabulous day on the South Platte River. My gamble paid off in a big way, and the hares ear nymph temporarily resumed its place at the top of Dave’s favorite fishing flies. Will this last through the summer? Stay tuned. I continued to do things the same, and the results were similar. Friday the 13th did not seem to have a negative impact on my fishing results.

Fish Landed: 58

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