South Platte River – 5/17/2011

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Around Osprey Campground

Fish Landed: 5

South Platte River 05/17/2011 Photo Album

I went into work on Monday and busied myself with a bunch of clean up tasks, but ran out of work by 2:30PM. I was waiting for the office manager to finish job costing before I could move into the normal closing duties, but she didn’t appear to be close, so I informed John that I’d probably be fishing on Tuesday. Now I needed to pick a destination.

On Tuesday morning after I’d packed everything in the car, I began looking at the stream flows for streams closer to Denver. Originally I considered the North Fork of the St. Vrain below Buttonrock Reservoir, but the gauge in Lyons was reading 150 cfs and had increased pretty dramatically over the last three days. There is no gauge on the North Fork below the dam, so it was a gamble to make the 1.5 hour drive only to discover that they were releasing more water. The Big Thompson was up to 130, and that’s pretty heavy flows for that small streambed. Next I checked Clear Creek and the flows there had jumped significantly over the last few days. Bear Creek was looking good at 22 cfs, but this is a small stream with relatively small fish. Finally the South Platte River near Deckers was running at 118. This is actually quite low, but I figured that was a better problem to face than high flows.

I arrived at the bottom of Nighthawk Hill and turned left to head up the river toward Deckers. I elected to turn into the pullout just before the Osprey Campground. It was around 10:30AM when I began fishing with a yellow Letort hopper and beadhead hares ear. It was overcast and chilly even though the forecast called for highs in the low 70’s. There were a few short periods when the sun broke through the clouds, but it was quite chilly for most of the day and the wind picked up in the afternoon. I actually wore a fleece and raincoat most of the time.

I began fishing a wide riffled area but had no action. I did spot a couple nice sized fish that I kicked out of their lairs as I waded upstream through a rocky area. I reached a spot where the river splits around a small island and prepared to work up the smaller right channel. But there was a thin seam where the currents rejoined below the island, and I made several casts into this area. On perhaps the fourth drift, the hopper paused, and I set the hook and landed a 10-12 inch brown. Good, there were fish in the river, and I got one to take my fly.

First Brown on South Platte

Next I waded up the shallow tail of the right channel to a spot where historically I landed many nice fish next to a beaver house. The beaver house was no longer there, but there was still a small riffle feeding a small pool. Once again toward the tail of the pool the hopper paused and I set the hook and had a one second hook up with a fish that I saw dart upstream upon release.

I retreated back to the main left channel and worked my way upstream prospecting all the three and four foot slots behind exposed rocks. When I’d gotten to the top of the rocky riffle stretch before the long pool by the campground, the hopper paused again, and I set the hook. A nice brown shot down past me and I regained line and gradually worked it to my net. The brown was a nice 13 inch fish that put up a nice fight in the riffled area. I continued fishing the slow moving water at the tail of the long pool, but when I got across from a bare area where fishermen entered and exited the pool, I decided to go back to the car and eat lunch before continuing. It was 11:30AM when I broke for lunch.

End of Pool Looking Downstream

I decided to drive above the campground (it costs money to park in the campground parking lot), and look for another pullout since I planned to fish upstream. But there weren’t any parking spaces for quite a distance, so I returned to my original parking space and ate lunch there. After lunch I hiked back up the road to the campground and waded into the tail of the pool. Fortunately I’d added another layer because it was quite cloudy and windy. This bit of nasty weather was apparently to the liking of the BWO’s and I spotted a smattering of small mayflies on the water. As this happened, I also spotted some sporadic rises along the far bank.

I tied on a size 22 CDC BWO and began casting to the spots where I’d seen the rises. I experienced one refusal, and then the rises ceased so I moved up the pool a bit where there was a small riffle and then some nervous water between the riffle and the bank. I observed closely and spotted some very subtle dimple rises occurring very regularly. I rested the water a bit, and shot a cast to the area of dimple rises. I checked the cast high so the fly fluttered down gently in a pile. I couldn’t see the fly very well, but spotted a rise near where I estimated the fly to be, and set the hook. I was attached to a leaping brown trout. It must have jumped out of the water five times before I brought it in and released. This fish was another 13 incher, but chunkier than the previous one.

Landed Nice Brown on BWO from Below Log

Long Pool by Osprey Campground

I moved further up the pool looking for additional rises, and spotted only one more. I couldn’t generate a rise to my fly until I moved above it and drifted downstream. On one of these casts I had a split second hookup. Next I reached the top of the pool and the water changed to faster runs and riffles, so I went back to the hopper/dropper but added a RS2 below the beadhead hares ear. I covered quite a distance over the next couple hours prospecting with the hopper/dropper combination. By 3PM I was getting pretty bored with the fishing. It was very cloudy and chilly, but I wasn’t seeing any additional flies, so I decided to go back to the car and drive back down the river to the Whale Rock area with the rock garden stretch that I enjoy.

Rock Garden Stretch Near Whale Rock

I parked at Latino Landing and walked up the road a bit to the area I targeted. Another fisherman with his dog appeared just above the area that I wanted to fish, but he fished the upper area a bit and then did a U turn. I stood and observed the water for five or ten minutes, but saw no activity. I didn’t want to disturb the nice water with my hopper/dropper so I tied on the CDC BWO and climbed up on a large boulder with a slanted top and lay on my side. Apparently I dozed off for a few minutes, but when I awoke I spotted a rise tight next to a protruding rock 15 feet above me. I dismounted from my perch and got in position to cast. The wind was blowing a bit making it difficult to place the cast where I wanted it, but on the fifth attempt I wrapped a cast to the left. The brown jumped on it instantly and I landed an eleven inch feisty fish.

Seeing no more rises in the sweet area where I’d caught the previous fish, I decided to explore the left bank. The current caressed a huge boulder along the bank, and I’d had success there before. The CDC BWO is not a great fly for prospecting, and I’d seen occasional caddis, so I tied on an olive body deer hair caddis and flicked it to the top of the run along the rock. Immediately a small six inch brown smacked my fly, and I quickly landed and released it. I watched the water for another few minutes and then prospected the top third of the area with the caddis, but nothing was doing. It was now 4PM, and I was feeling quite chilled so I called it quits and drove back to Denver.

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