The South Platte River located in central Colorado initially
flows southeast towards the town of Lake George then
north-northeast towards and eventually through Denver.
This is one of the finest, if not the premier fishery
in Colorado. Rainbows and browns are found in tremendous
numbers. The trout average impressive sizes and are often
seen "gliding" in the currents of this clear flowing
river. Be sure to check with the special
regulations as many of the river's sections have
The South Platte flows through several lakes and
reservoirs on its course towards Denver. Many of the
areas below and above these lakes and reservoirs are
exciting and productive fisheries. The most popular
and probably most productive section of the river is
below Cheesman Reservoir and Dam. Another productive
stretch of river is above and below Spinney Mountain
Reservoir. Here, browns and especially rainbows have
been known to reach immense sizes.
Approximately 20 miles west of the town of Lake George
the main South Platte is formed from the junction of
the South and Middle Forks. The South and Middle Forks
are both quality fisheries. The Middle Fork is a freestone
fishery since it is a free flowing stream. The South
Fork is a freestone fishery above Antero Reservoir
and a tail-water below the reservoir. These fisheries
are home to resident as well as migratory fish that
enter the South Platte and eventually up the branches
of this fine river from Spinney Mountain Reservoir
to spawn. Spawning rainbows, cutthroats and browns
can be caught here many of which are 20 inches or better.
Access to these areas can be found along Routes 24
and 9, US285 and side roads leading from these areas.
Often a short hike in to the river is required. This
area is known as the water above Spinney Reservoir
and averages from 15 to 30 feet wide. Beautiful riffles,
runs and pools make up the majority of this section.
Downstream from Eleven Mile Reservoir the river flows
through a canyon known as "Eleven Mile Canyon" and is
once again a great fishery. Quality trout are found throughout
this area. This is a longer section then the previous
extending nine miles (not eleven miles like its name
depicts) down to Lake George. This area is well protected
from the wind, which is a factor on much of the river.
Below Lake George there is more productive water before
reaching Cheesman Reservoir.
Below Cheesman Reservoir is perhaps the most popular
and productive stretch of river. Access to the section
between the dam and Deckers is usually granted after
a sizable hike in to a canyon. The water here is made
up mostly of pockets, pools, and riffles. The surrounding
land is steep and getting back to your car is often
the most difficult part of the day. However, if you
ask most anglers if the hike is worth it you will most
often be answered with a hasty "yes". This is a tremendous
section of river to fish. The Gill Trail is located
off of CR126 and is the major access point for the
water between the dam and Deckers. This area, even
though a little more difficult to access, is one of
hardest fished sections on this river. At Deckers you
will find easier access. From Deckers the river flows
for several more miles through productive water towards
Strontia Spring Reservoir and Platte Canyon Reservoir.
After flowing through Plate Canyon Reservoir the South
Platte approaches Denver and becomes less productive
as it nears the city limits.
Overall, nymphs are the most productive flies on
this river during the course of the season. Scuds,
brassies, hares ears, pheasant tails, zug bugs, prince
nymphs, midges, stoneflies, and other popular nymphs
produce fish on a consistent basis. Streamers are also
very productive especially for some of the migratory
fish that enter the river from the different reservoirs.
Woolly buggers and matukas are popular and productive
Hatches on the South Platte can be very prolific
especially certain ones. The three major mayfly hatches
include Blue-wing Olives (baetis), Pale Morning Duns,
and Tricos. The Blue-wings hatch during the spring
and fall especially on overcast or rainy days. Pale
Morning Duns can be found on the river during June
and July. Tricos start to appear in late July and can
last through October. Midges, stoneflies, caddis, terrestrials
and a couple of other mayflies also hatch or appear
and produce their share of fish.
If your going to be in Colorado near Denver or Colorado
Springs or just looking to plan a fly fishing vacation
give the South Platte River a try. It is a class trout
fishery that produces trophy trout year after year.
The closest commercial airports are in Denver and Colorado