South Platte River – 05/10/2023

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/10/2023 Photo Album

When I first considered a day of fishing on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, the weather forecast was very encouraging. The high temperature at Lake George was anticipated to be in the upper sixties with partly cloudy skies and wind speeds in the ten to eleven mile range. The hour by hour forecast predicted a thirty to forty percent probability of rain after 3PM. In retrospect after experiencing the day, the weather was very adverse. Heavy clouds were present all day with only thirty minutes, at most, of sunshine. In the early afternoon my fishing companion, Nate, and I heard rumbling in the western sky, so we found a large rock overhang and huddled there, until the lightning and thunder abated. After resuming our fishing, another storm cell rolled in, and in this case we absorbed heavy rain showers and small hail pellets. The remainder of the afternoon reflected the forecast with periods of rain, wind and overcast for the last 1.5 hours. Fortunately I packed a fleece hoodie and my New Zealand billed hat with earflaps, or our quitting time may have been munch sooner than 4PM.

Once again my young fishing partner, Nate, accompanied me on this adventure. Nate is an experienced spin and bait fisherman, but a relatively novice fly angler, and I really wanted to introduce him to a productive piece of water, that would position him to set new standards for quantity of fish landed. The good news is that he accomplished that goal. The bad news is that he suffered through the same adverse weather conditions that tested me throughout the day.

I chose the South Platte River at Eleven Mile Canyon because the flows were in the 77 CFS range, and the major freestones in Colorado were already demonstrating the impact of seasonal run off with high and murky conditions. In addition, I visited the South Platte quite a few times in 2023 in the area, and I had yet to be disappointed. Nate and I met at a convenient park and ride, and we continued our trip to the river, so that we were positioned to begin fishing by 11:30AM. The river displayed a slight tinge, but the flows were as advertised in the upper 70 to low 80 range. I chose to fish the left bank, and Nate moved along the right shoreline, which was closest to the fisherman path.


In the early going I featured a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph, and before we broke for lunch, I managed to net three brown trout in the eight to ten inch range. All three munched on the hares ear. Nate, meanwhile, offered a foam hopper, and then knotted an emerald caddis pupa below followed by a chartreuse copper john. Eventually the copper john was swapped for a beadhead hares ear.

Early Going

Sure Bet

After lunch, Nate began to register trout at a regular pace. I noticed a series of rises, and not wanting to consume the time necessary to make a full conversion to a dry fly, I exchanged the salvation nymph for a RS2. The RS2 produced a fish or two, but the rises stopped, and that signaled an end to the subsurface action as well. I knew from surveying the quality of the water, that I was skipping fish, so I reconfigured with a prince nymph on top and the hares ear on the bottom. This move paid strong dividends, as the fish count began to climb at a steady pace. There was a streak when the prince was on fire, but eventually the hares ear resumed its status as the top producer.

Big Smile

On Display

Protected from the Elements

During this time period the first thunderstorm forced us to seek shelter under a small rock ledge overhead. When we returned, I made an excessive hook set with no resistance and hurled my flies into an evergreen branch behind me. I had swapped the fat Albert for a tan pool toy hopper, and I could see the hopper relatively close to the trailing nymphs. I acknowledged that retrieval was unlikely, so I applied direct pressure and snapped off the three flies. I was not a happy camper. I replaced the prince and hares ear with like flies, but for the surface fly I returned to a fat Albert.

Cast Over White Water?

For the remainder of the afternoon Nate and I worked our way up the river along opposite banks, and we raised our fish counters significantly. Nate tallied eleven landed trout, before we adjourned at 4PM, and I elevated my count to twenty-six. Most of Nate’s success came from the hares ear, but he also notched two feeders on the emerald caddis pupa and one eager trout that gobbled the hopper pattern. In my case I estimate that sixty percent of my catch was attributable to the hares ear and forty percent to the prince. I believe that the larger prince helped sink my flies, and this aided in my strong afternoon showing. Nate achieved double digits on flies for the first time, and he also netted the fish of the day, a fine wild fourteen inch brown trout.

Long and Lean

Most of my fish were in the eight to eleven inch range with a pair of twelve inchers topping the measuring tape. There was one period during the second thunderstorm, when both of us were pelted by heavy rain and then slanted ice pellets, but this lasted for ten minutes and then moved on. My top locations were deep runs along fast moving current and long and deep pockets. The trout seemed to favor positions at the tail of the soft water, where currents merged and concentrated food. Slow moving pools were not productive, although the sections that we fished did not offer much in the way of deep slow moving water. The size of my fish was somewhat understated, but I had a blast moving quickly and prospecting upstream and landing trout at a steady pace. Nate, of course, was euphoric after his record day, and he was the proud owner of the largest fish landed.

Fish Landed: 26