South Platte Fishing Report: Deckers, Cheesman, Dream Stream, 11 Mile Canyon

South Platte Fishing Report: Deckers, Cheesman, Dream Stream, 11 Mile Canyon

Spey Casting Hoppers in Deckers! Hit the other bank at high water, mend across heavy current

How’s the Fishing Been?  (Worth a Read)
-Make it about the challenge, less about catching, and inevitably catch more fish!

How’s the Fishing? That’s the question I get asked more than any other question through the summer months. If you don’t feel like reading my ramble the short and sweet is runoff is over, the flows across the state are dropping daily, and fish are eating!  There was a time when I fly fished to catch fish.  That makes sense on the surface, but on a deeper level I think there is more to it than that.  Today, if I had to rate the reasons why I fly fish, catching fish would not be too high on the list.  If I had to give reason number one it would be, “challenges and new challenges.”

When “how many” and “how big” were my rating scale for a day on the water I eventually hit a plateau.  Fishing soon became somewhat of a monotony and so was the way I fished.  For me it usually involved, the same 9’ 5wt, casts, rigs, and results. If the fishing fit within my rigid system I did well. If fishing was slow then the water must have been off color, too high, too crowded or any number of other excuses to cushion the bubble of my comfort zone.

Frank Smethurst (Scott Fly Rod CO) is an example of an angler who fishes for that “one” fish

The bubble bursted for me after a lot of fishing and talking about fishing with the two most accomplished, talented and fishy people I’ll ever know, Frank Smethurst (Scott Fly Rod Company) and Brandon Souccie (Taylor Creek Fly Shop). They opened my eyes to a diverse way of fishing that had little to do with catching fish and a lot to do with mindset.  Both of these guys are alike in that  they go to the river to think outside the box, experiment, fine tune, and challenge the conventional.  Though their mindset is the same, their mentality is different in that Frank is after that “one”  fish (Hog Johnson),  whereas Brandon is after every fish in the river (big, small, whitey, sucker, whatever). The biggest thing I’ve seen with these two is that whether or not Frank hooks a monster or Brandon puts 3 fish in the net in 20 seconds, they NEVER leave the river without having learned or improved something.

Handy work of Brandon Souccie who can do a body count like no one else

I’ve taken a lot out of both of their unwritten books and the biggest point I can make is to go fishing with the idea of challenging yourself to improve, try, and/or learn something new.  If you do all  or some of the above, your day was a success. In the short run you may catch less fish, smaller fish, and perhaps no fish. What I can promise you is that in the long run you will catch more and bigger fish.  You will be diverse, able to adapt to new rivers, less than ideal water conditions, and well prepared for the fish, day, or trip of a lifetime whenever it comes.


Hopper Fishing Two Handers and Swith Rods

Click Image for  Video

Recently I’ve been throwing a lot of hoppers on the South Platte with spey rods.  The fish are just now starting to look for hoppers, but I’m definitely forcing the issue. Earlier this week I brought up a ton of fish  in the evening.  Yesterday James and I went down in the morning and fishing was slow, but I kept chucking hoppers. Again, my goal is to challenge myself to learn and improve because I know once the fish really get up on hoppers the traditional “kiss and go” spey cast with the Scott T2H 10’8” 5wt  two hander is going to get my flies to spots on the river I never before dreamed of.  Aside from that nothing feels as clean, crisp and powerful as a traditional spey cast.  When I time the anchor, pull the trigger and see a hopper launch to the opposite bank….nirvana. On the contrary, nothing is as ugly as a blown spey cast.  I have to give James kudo’s for being tolerant enough to fish along side me when I blow an anchor and send every fish within a mile of river running for cover.
South Platte, Fishing Report
Deckers/Cheesman: Flows are dropping steadily water is clear, hoppers are out and about, and it won’t be long before fish are all over them.  At the moment however, hopper fishing is best late in the afternoon and into the evening.  Prior to that, think dry dropper the fish are pretty much off the junk above Nighthawk but still willing to eat worms and rubberlegs below there.
Hoppers: Amy’s Ant (sad to say fish are wising up to her so have some variations, in different sizes), foamulators, Charlie Boy Hoppers, MA’s Extra Terrestrial, meadow hopper
Nymphs: RS2, pheasant tails, mercers, golden stone, drowned spinners (lots of PMD’s in the evening), breadcrust, worms, midges. It really depends where you are fishing
Streamers: James turned some fish below Nighthawk on slumpbusters and a variety of different smaller bugger patterns.
Misc: Tippet 3x-4x for hoppers, 5-6X for everything else. 7.5 ft 3x-5x leaders, floatant, dry shake

Dream Stream and Eleven Mile
The tricos were out last week and fish were still not quite up on them.  Now that the flows have dropped, I’d look for this to be a great week of tricos! You might need to drop back down to 5-7x as opposed to our report last week which was at 500CFS.
Hoppers and Nymphs: will be the same as Deckers and cheesman
Other Dries: puterbaugh caddis (Black), pearl and elk caddis, trico spinners, parachute adams #20-24

RUN OFF IS OVER!!!! Good reports from friends up in the Vail Valley.  The Eagle is clear and fishing well.  Matt will be  in the Valley all weekend floating and will have a full report when he returns.

Challenges to Make you a Better Angler!

Beginners: Take a pine cone, throw it in the river and watch it float next to a bubble on the water.  Notice they move at the same speed and on the same line.  Memorize that, and challenge yourself to make your fly or indicator drift the same way by mending and managing your line accordingly.

Intermediate: This time of year is a great opportunity to really learn how to fish dries.  Try weening yourself off the the thing-a-ma-bobber and really work on your dry fly fishing.  It is a lot harder to make a dry fly float through a drift.  Once you can make a size 24 trico spinner float drag free, an indicator will be a walk in the park

Experienced: Go get the other bank with hoppers.  Dial in your double haul, work on your slack mend across heavy currents, and keeping your fly in the hit zone!  If you can keep that hopper riding on the bank across big water, you will be a better all around angler for it.  Practice now and you will have some serious fun in mid August and September when terrestrials become a steadfast diet for Western trout.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

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Justin Nolan

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