Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Eleven Mile Canyon
South Platte River 05/01/2023 Photo Album
With a string of nice spring weather days in the forecast, I was anxious to take advantage. I managed to land ten trout on Sunday, but they were small and very discerning. I worked hard for ten fish, and I was ready for some new scenery for a day, when the weather was forecast to peak in the low seventies in Denver, CO. I checked all the front range flows, and when I noticed that South Boulder Creek below Gross Dam was rolling along at 40 CFS, I was fairly convinced that a hike into the canyon was my Monday destination. But wait a minute. The ongoing dam expansion project needed to be considered. I brought up the Denver Water construction web page, and the verbiage on the Fisherman Parking lot was confusing and vague. Not wishing to risk another thwarted trip, I decided to shift my attention elsewhere, until I had a chance to call the Denver Water phone number that was provided.
I turned my attention to the old reliable South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and the DWR water graph displayed a steady flow in the 50 – 60 CFS range. Perfect. I decided to make the drive once again, but I planned to fish a different section. I departed my house in Denver at 8:15AM, and this enabled me to park and be ready to fish by 11:00AM. The air temperature was around 60 degrees, so I skipped wearing an extra layer and stuffed my raincoat in my backpack just in case. After lunch a series of dark clouds rolled in from the west, and I took advantage of the rain shell to hold in body warmth. For my rod I grabbed my new Sage R8 four weight, and I was off to the river’s edge.
My outstanding day can be divided into three discrete periods. At the start near the parking lot I opted for a size 14 peacock hippie stomper, ultra zug bug and beadhead hares ear nymph. This three fly combination was moderately effective, as I built the fish count to five before I paused for a quick lunch at noon. Two fish crushed the hippie stomper, and the other three nabbed the hares ear, but I covered a fair amount of very attractive water with no interest, so I did not feel locked in.
After lunch I noticed a couple sporadic rises, so I decided to exchange the hares ear nymph for a size 20 classic RS2. What a move it turned out to be! I stood to the side and just below a fifty foot long deep run, and I began firing casts to the entering riffle. After a few fruitless long casts, the hippie stomper disappeared, and I found myself attached to a spunky and hard fighting rainbow trout. This scenario repeated itself eight more times, as I apparently stumbled into a rainbow trout party. The last of this rainbow trout windfall was a very thick fourteen inch rainbow, and it put up a heroic fight before surrendering to my net. Fourteen inches does that seem that remarkable, but this trout exhibited excessive girth for its length. This angler was quite pleased. From the same position I shot some casts to another shorter run where the river curled between some exposed boulders, and this redirection yielded two additional rainbows. Finally the action ceased, as I executed five or six fruitless casts, so I ended my second phase of Monday’s fishing and moved upstream to the next section, which was characterized by a narrow streambed and an abundant quantity of deep pockets and short deep runs.
I never observed more than a couple blue winged olive adults earlier, but by now they were totally absent, and the fish were not displaying surface feeding, so I decided to revisit the dry/dropper approach albeit with some larger flies to enable deeper and faster drifts through the deep pockets. I knotted a yellow Amy’s ant with a gray body to my line and trailed a size 14 prince nymph and size 16 salvation nymph. This configuration signified the start of my third period of the day, and once again my change in approach paid huge dividends. I continued working up the river at a steady pace and incremented the fish count from fifteen to twenty-seven, before I stripped in my line and quit for the day. This segment of my day was the type of fly fishing that I thrive on. It was fast paced, as I dumped short casts into likely pockets and deep runs, and I held my rod high to keep the fly line off the water. Three to five casts were sufficient for each target location, and quite often a hungry trout snatched the trailing nymph and quickly found itself languishing in my net. All of the fish during this middle to late afternoon session fell victim to the salvation nymph, and the first normally indestructible fly actually unraveled a bit forcing me to make a change. Several of the deep nymph biters were very healthy brown trout, and I was quite proud to fool these normally wary feeders.
By 3:30 I reached the top of the fast water section, so I hoofed it back to the car and drove up the road another .4 mile to a new pullout. I quickly tromped down to the river and spent thirty minutes fishing through another pocketwater section, where I secured a couple more rainbows to bring my total to twenty-seven. A lot more attractive water remained upstream, but it was 4:00PM, and I was tired and ready for my return drive.
Monday was easily my best day of the season so far from a numbers perspective, but a previous twenty fish day in Eleven Mile was probably at the top of the list from a quantity and quality perspective. Nevertheless, I relished the fast action and challenge of adjusting to the ever shifting tastes of the wild stream residents of the South Platte. Hopefully I can get quite a few additional successful days in before permanent run off and a trip planned to Iceland.
Fish Landed: 27