South Platte Special

I fished the South Platte last weekend. I haven’t fished it for nearly two months. As I approached the Canyon, I noted that the stream flow was up. As I drove into the Canyon, I saw lots of campers, but not too many fishermen. It was early and there was still a chill in the air. The tent campers were flapping their arms around their smoky campfires, but I figured that they would be on the water before too long. I pushed on up the Canyon without stopping. Some of the choice pull-offs were filled, but not all of them, so I was surprised to find three cars in the pull-out next to the stretch that I wanted to fish. I pulled in anyway and got geared up. On the first cast, my strike indicator was jerked under toward the end of the drift and I knew I was into a big fish. Unfortunately, the fish broke off in a patch of aquatic weeds close to shore. Smart fish. I should have played it differently, letting it hang out in the main current a little longer. Another fly fisherman moved into the hole from the opposite bank. He was an older guy and his mobility seemed to be limited. I tied on another nymph and quickly hooked another fish. The old guy wanted to know what I was using. “South Platte Special”, I said. We chatted for a moment across the water and then I yielded the pool to him. Just as I exited the pool, another fisherman approached from the far bank and splashed into the water above the old guy. Fortunately, neither followed. “Getting crowded”, I thought to myself.

The BWO’s were swarming above the river in the early morning sun. I observed a large fish rising along a seam at the back of a rock on the far side of the river. I switched to a BWO dun. I had fished this stretch before and knew that it would be tricky to get a good drift on the far side. However, I felt very confident, thinking to myself “I can catch that fish.” Sure enough, I hooked the fish after a few casts and soon brought to hand a nice 16” rainbow. I rested the run for a moment and soon the fish begin rising again. I noticed a rise under an overhang on the upstream side of the rock. It appeared to be a larger fish. I made a down and across cast and the BWO dun floated under the overhang and then disappeared. I didn’t know that the fish was on at first because I didn’t see the take. The fish fought hard, but after several runs, I brought it to hand. At 19”, it wasn’t the biggest ‘bow that I have taken from that stretch, but it was still a good fish. I was really excited now.

After two more fish from the same slot, I decided to move down the river and try a couple of other spots that had been productive in the past. Initially, I met only one other fly fisherman. He seemed surprised when I told him that I was catching fish. He wanted to know what I was catching them on. "South Platte Special", I said. “Another tourist”, I thought to myself. I brought to hand several more fish, but the bite began to slow around 11:00 am. Some bigger fish were holding in 3-4 inches of water, and appeared to be feeding, but they didn’t want dries or emergers, and I couldn’t get a nymph to them in the shallower water. I picked up a 15” fish on an elk hair caddis in the riffles.

Then I encountered a family of four wet wading upstream. Mom and dad waded by first making fairly nice casts and then their two teenage boys followed. The boys were just thrashing the water. They probably got those fly rods as gifts for their big vacation in Colorado. They kept yelling at each other: “Come up here”; “Where are you?”, “Dad, that guy just caught a fish” – that kind of thing. It was annoying. The youngest yelled at me: "What are you catching them on?" "South Platte Special", I said. “D**n tourists”, I thought. I decided to move downstream a couple of miles to another stretch of water just outside of the fly only area.

I had found nice fish here many times, although my last visit was disappointing. I switched back to nymphing, rigging up a sz. 16 beadhead flashback pheasant tail and a sz. 20 black shuckin’ midge as the dropper on 7x tippet. I started catching fish immediately. One pool was particularly productive. The fish were taking in the very back of a small, deep pool just as the water welled up to pass over a large submerged rock. After bringing three fish to hand, I worked my way further down the run, taking fish here and there. By the time I got to the end of the run, I had hooked and brought to hand about five more fish. It was around 4:00 pm at this point, much too early to quit. Instead of driving back up the river, I decided to go back to the top of the stretch I had just been through. I particularly wanted to try that one pool again.

I got back into the water, but my fishing was quickly interrupted by a young man tubing down the river. I saw him coming while he was still some ways upstream and decided to switch flies as I waited for him to drift past. Fortunately, he stayed on the far side of the river and didn’t disturb the pool I was fishing. His attractive, young girlfriend was another story. I did not see her coming initially. My back was facing upstream while I changed the fly and when I turned to cast, I almost hit her with the nymph. I mumbled an apology and she smiled while casually draping her right arm across her body. This left her with only one arm to paddle with. She drifted right through the pool that I was fishing and fell out of her inner tube just below the pool as she crashed into a rock. My immediate thought was “d**n, that will put the fish down for sure.” A very wet t-shirt clung to her chest when she stood up and I immediately understood why she had modestly draped her arm across herself. I couldn’t help but look. She smiled, got back on her tube, waved, and floated on down the river.

I brought seven more fish to hand from that pool, including two brookies, one right after the other. Apparently, the fish hadn’t minded the show, either. I stopped and fished two spots that I had not fished before on my way out of the Canyon, picking up one more fish. I left just before dark, quite content with a 25 plus fish day.
Great report Dan, thanks for the vicarious colorado excursion. Knocking that wet T shirted gal from the tube, might have been your best cast of the day! :thumb:

mike doughty

Honorary Member
Dan, as soon as i get out of vegas i will be in colorado visiting the little ones and will have to get directions from you if not maybe hook up with you. good report.

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
Alright tony, u beat me two it. Dan, i know your a smart man, howbout u upload just one more of those nice pictures you have.

Okay, here are a couple of additional pics. I didn't post them initially because I wasn't happy with the quality. This was the first outing with my new PentaxOptio WP. It's a good camera, but I'm still learning to use it. I now know that I have to be aware of lens flare when shooting into the sun. That wasn't a problem with my Olympus because I used a lens shade. However, the Olympus was really too big to lug to the river. The photo of the river and the landscape shot are about as close as I'll come to identifying "the rock". The landscape was made from the pull-out I parked in. The dry fly action mentioned was on the right side of the photo of the river. Fish were holding on the left side of the river in and just to the left of the riffle, but as I mentioned, I couldn't entice those fish to take. I did talk to a local fly fisherman that I didn't mention in my report and he showed me a midge pattern tied with two colors of thread that he said had been working on those fish in the riffles. Very simliar to a brassie. I'm going to tie a few up before my next trip.


Just Another Bubba
11mile? "the canyon" doesn't cut it for some of us. ;) But it's the only one that you can drive in (I think).

Have fun

I'm pleased that my report piqued your interest. Let see - how many canyons are there on the South Platte that you can drive up into that have several campgrounds along them? Bada Bing!

And thanks, I did. I fished a different stretch last Wednesday pm with a buddy. There was a nice evening BWO hatch. Only brought 7 to hand.

"Life is just a tire swing."

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