Monthly Archives: March 2023

South Platte River – 03/14/2023

Time: 11:15AM – 3:15PM

Location: Deckers

South Platte River 03/14/2023 Photo Album

How can a river be crowded, yet not allow me to catch a single fish? Did the other anglers experience more success?

The weather forecast predicted another brief temperature spike in the sixties in Denver, so I made plans for a second day of fishing in the 2023 season. I considered the Arkansas River, the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and the South Platte River at Deckers. Because Deckers represented a shorter drive, and the air temperatures were moderately higher than Eleven Mile, I made Deckers my choice.

With the time change on Sunday, the temperature took longer to rise to comfortable levels, so I took my time on Tuesday morning and did not depart until 9:30AM. This enabled me to arrive at my chosen destination by 11AM, and I was on the river fishing by 11:15AM. I was surprised at the number of vehicles occupying the pullouts along the river, and fishermen were spaced out for the entire distance, before I stopped.


The air temperature was in the low fifties when I began, so I wore my light down coat, my raincoat, and my billed hat with ear flaps. The river was flowing along at 182 CFS, and the clarity was perfect. I began below the downstream border of the special regulation section, but I encountered two fishermen near the ninety degree bend, and circled around them, until I was in the section, where the river flowed from east to west. I explored a short thirty yard length, before another young angler cut in above me. I glanced at my watch and noted that it was nearly noon, so I climbed the bank and returned to my car for lunch.

Angler Cut in Right Above Me

During the forty-five minute morning fishing session, I deployed an indicator and split shot rig. Initially I used an apricot otter egg and zebra midge, and after a lack of success I switched to a San Juan worm and salad spinner. None of these flies provoked action, and I spotted only one twelve inch fish, as it darted from cover along the bank, as I approached the river.

After lunch I moved downstream to three sections outside the special regulation area, and I failed to land a single fish. I stuck with the indicator and split shot at the first and second spots, but I swapped the San Juan worm for a salvation nymph, and I modified the end fly from the midge pupa to a classic RS2. This combination was ignored as consistently as the first two pairings.

Nice Deep Run

The third afternoon stop featured a series of nice pockets that bordered the western bank, so I elected to change my approach to a dry/dropper method. I removed the indicator and split shot and substituted a size 8 yellow fat Albert, but I retained the salvation nymph and RS2. I hoped that the three fly combination would attract interest in the small bankside pools and runs of moderate depth. The strategy never attracted so much as a look or refusal, but I persisted with it at my last stop.

Fourth Spot

My confidence in the last two hours of fishing was rock bottom, and I rarely feel as futile, as I did on Tuesday. I saw no insects nor was I able to spot a single trout in spite of nearly ideal visibility. Several times I paused on the high bank along the road to scan deep troughs and pools, but I never spotted the outline or shadow of a fish.

A Favorite Pool Failed Me

By 3:15PM I could no longer contain my boredom, so I stripped in my line and returned to the car. I never saw another angler landing a fish, although I was focused primarily on my own pursuit of trout and did not pay much attention to others. Some adverse weather is predicted for Wednesday, so I will pause my fly fishing for a bit, until more spring-like weather returns. I suspect I made the wrong choice for my destination on Tuesday in favor of mild temperatures and a shorter drive. In spite of the lack of fish, the weather was delightful, and I was present in a beautiful locale.

Fish Landed: 0


North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 03/10/2023

Time: 11:15AM – 2:30PM

Location: Buttonrock Preserve

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek 03/10/2023 Photo Album

January, February and March have been consistently cold months during the winter of 2023, and I anxiously awaited a break that would enable me to visit a local stream to kick off the new season. When I checked the high temperatures in Denver for Friday, March 10, I noted sixty-one degrees, so I immediately checked some towns near Front Range streams. This process led me to Lyons, CO with a high of 59, so I decided to initiate my season on the North Fork of the St. Vrain northwest of Lyons. A quick check of the flows revealed 20 CFS, and although this was on the low side, I decided to give it a go. My history with opening days was not good, so I set my expectations low for Friday.

I arrived at the nearly vacant and muddy parking lot at 10AM, and the temperature on the dashboard registered thirty-two degrees. I was skeptical that 59 was attainable, but even more problematic was the gusting wind that sent chills down my spine, as I exited the car to gear up for my first day of fly fishing. I quickly pulled on my fleece hoodie and North Fork light down and then added my raincoat as a windbreaker. My bag yielded a New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps, and I searched through the fishing bag for my woolen fingerless gloves. This was evidently winter fishing and not the warm spring outing that I anticipated. My new Redington waders barely slid over my bulky layers, and when I slipped on my new backpack and front pack, I realized that the straps needed significant adjustment. By the time I had everything tuned up, my hands were stinging from the cold and wind, so I jumped back in the car and turned on the engine and listened to some sports talk for ten minutes.

Deep Pool

Finally my hands were back to normal, so I tugged on my fingerless gloves and snapped on my front pack and backpack and assembled my newly repaired Sage four weight and began my hike on the dirt road that follows the creek. By 11:15 I arrived at my favorite starting point, and I was sheltered to some degree in the canyon, although the wind remained a nuisance throughout the day. I began with a size 8 yellow fat Albert and added a three foot dropper with a beadhead hares ear nymph, and these were my flies of choice for the 45 minute morning session prior to breaking for lunch at noon. The late morning creek exploration failed to yield a single landed trout, although a fairly nice fish crushed the fat Albert and immediately cleared the surface, before it shed the hook and escaped to freedom.

Looks Promising

After lunch I exchanged the hares ear for a green and black Pat’s rubberleg in order to gain more depth, but the stonefly imitation was not on the menu. In the 45 minutes after lunch I prospected with the rubberlegs, bright green go2 caddis pupa, and ultra zug bug, but the subsurface offerings failed to interest the stream residents. I did, however, manage to hook and land a ravenous nine inch rainbow that slurped the yellow fat Albert, and I celebrated my first fish of the year. Unfortunately the little fighter wrapped the trailing rubberlegs and caddis pupa in an ugly snarl, and I spent five minutes untangling the mess.

First Trout of 2023

By 1:30PM I approached a gorgeous long smooth pool with several swirling current seams, and before I could make a cast with the dry/dropper, I noticed a series of sipping rises. What could be bringing these trout to the surface? I decided to take advantage of the unexpected early season surface feeding, and I removed the nymphs and fat Albert and tied a size 24 CDC BWO to my leader. I spent ten minutes spraying casts to all the locales that revealed sipping trout, but the tiny mayfly imitation was soundly ignored. Were the fish eating small black stoneflies? I encountered them previously on this section of stream, so I knotted a size22 black bug to my line with a swept back poly wing. The move did not pay off. The flurry of rises seemed to follow strong gusts of wind, so I guessed that perhaps ants were blown from the trees into the creek. I stripped in my line and replaced the black stonefly with an olive size 16 deer hair caddis and then added a parachute black ant on an eight inch dropper. Some excellent drifts with the visible double dries were met with total disregard, so I returned to the dry/dropper that produced my only trout.

Nice Pool

For the next hour until I quit at 2:30PM I prospected upstream with a size 14 peacock body hippie stomper, ultra zug bug and size 20 BWO soft hackle emerger. After a reasonable trial period the emerger got stuck in my frontpack mesh, and I bent it in the process of removing, so I replaced it with a size 20 sparkle wing RS2. One refusal to the hippie stomper was the extent of my action on the dry/dropper combination, so I hooked the RS2 to the rod guide at 2:30PM and retreated to the car. The sky was partly cloudy, and the wind continued to howl, as I tramped back along the road to the mud bound Santa Fe.

One fish in nearly three hours of fishing was not a stellar outing, but I was, nonetheless, pleased to land a rainbow in order to initiate the fish count for 2023. The cold and wind provided significant hurdles to success on Friday, although I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a brief hatch. I also broke in and adjusted new equipment, and that should prepare me for future fly fishing ventures. I am rooting for you, spring.

Fish Landed: 1