Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM
Location: South Platte River
Fish Landed: 51
Sometimes all the elements combine to yield a nearly perfect day of fishing, and Thursday October 8 was one of those days. About the only ingredient missing from our trip to the South Platte River was large fish, but given the abundance of superb factors, I can accept this omission. During my last trek to this section of the South Platte, I lost my rod tip, and Jane and I spent an additional couple hours backtracking until we finally located it. I was hoping for redemption, and Thursday qualifies as double restitution.
Jane and I departed our house in Denver by 7:15, and unfortunately we were unable to avoid some heavy rush hour traffic in the tech center area of south Denver. Despite this momentary inconvenience we were able to arrive at the trailhead by 9:50, and we began our hike at 10:05. An hour and fifteen minute walk at a steady pace delivered us at our customary base camp location, and after Jane spread out her blanket, we continued along the path to my entry point. I began above my usual starting point since I hoped to fish upstream beyond the base camp; something I usually fall short of.
The flows were 103 cfs, and this level is nearly ideal. The moderate current allowed me to move freely about the river, however, the water was deep enough so that the fish were not overly skittish. The air temperature was in the upper forties when I began fishing, and it probably never peaked above sixty-five. I was comfortable during my entire time on the river under the bright sun and clear blue skies except for one brief period when some large clouds rolled in and blocked the sun’s rays.
I hoped to fish upstream along the left bank since it is away from the path, and I embrace the theory that the fish opposite a path or road are less pressured. Unfortunately the shadows and difficult light during the late morning period caused me to fish the right bank and the center of the river until I broke for lunch at 12:30. I began with a Charlie Boy hopper and hares ear nymph on 2.5 foot dropper, and almost instantly had a ten inch brown trout in my net. This fish tied me with the 2014 cumulative fish count, and shortly thereafter I hooked another comparable brown to surpass last year.
During the late morning and early afternoon time frame, I worked my way upstream and landed thirteen brown trout before exiting and returning to base camp for lunch. What an auspicious start to a gorgeous fall day! After lunch Jane walked down the path with me to my exit point before lunch, and she watched me and took photos as I resumed my quest for fish. Of course while she watched, I struggled to land even a small fish, so I added another one foot section of tippet to the hares ear, and tied on a second nymph…a beadhead salvation nymph.
Boom. This addition was instantly successful, and as Jane looked on, I landed a couple small browns. She commented that I made it look too easy. The remainder of the afternoon was pure joy, as I advanced up the river beyond the base camp and landed another thirty-eight trout. The salvation nymph was the main producer during the early afternoon, but the hares ear came on strong in the late time period. At 1PM I began to notice blue winged olives, and this coincided with an incident when I lost the salvation in the process of photographing and releasing a fish. Consequently I used replacing the salvation as an opportunity to test a blue winged olive soft hackle emerger.
After a brief test I concluded that the soft hackle emerger did not perform on par with the salvation, and I returned the attractor nymph to its previous position at the tip of my three fly arrangement. The slow deep pools were not producing, so I stopped wasting time in that type of water and moved directly to the head of each pool where deep runs and riffles entered. These locations along with pocket water yielded nearly all of my fish on Thursday. Many of the fish were hooked during the lift at the end of the drift as well as during the swing, when I cast from the side and allowed the flies to drift across and then below me.
The most memorable fish was a thirteen inch rainbow. I dropped a cast into a narrow frothy slot at the very top of a deep trough in the middle of the river. Suddenly a mouth appeared below the hopper, and I reacted with a solid hook set. Quickly I discovered a rainbow attached to my line, as it streaked up and down the river and put up a noble fight. Eventually it tired, and I scooped the irate silver football with my net. This was the only fish of the day that slurped the hopper imitation, even though the Charlie boy was in place as my top indicator fly all day long.
In summary many of the fish landed were in the six to nine inch range with ten or so extending to ten and eleven inches. In addition I landed three that measured a foot or more in length. Admittedly these were relatively small trout, but I thrived on the fast paced nonstop action that accompanies landing a large quantity of fish in four and a half hours. As to species I landed only three rainbows, and the remainder were brown trout. I do not have an explanation of why certain species seem to predominate at different times of the year.
Obviously I desired more size, but it was a blast moving quickly upstream and popping casts to all the likely spots and more often than not connecting with a wild fish. I was in a beautiful remote location under blue skies and sunshine with pleasant temperatures. My lovely wife accompanied me, and no other human beings were nearby to disrupt our outdoor adventure. The wild trout were plentiful and willing to eat flies that I created myself. It seemed that every nook of water that might yield a fish, did in fact produce. Sure I would have liked a few larger fish, but this degree of success on October 8 is something I am thankful for.