Elevenmile Canyon Fly Fishing | South Platte River

Elevenmile Canyon Fly Fishing | South Platte River

Elevenmile Canyon offers fantastic year round fly fishing. Fed from the bottom of Elevenmile Reservoir, the canyon stays ice free year round.   Generally we will start off by fishing the lower canyon and let crowds disperse up top. Until recently, we were  just like all the other anglers and head straight for the catch and release section, but we’ve since decided to make it a point to explore a little more.  The lower river is much more forgiving than the upper river, the fish are always willing to eat San Juan worms and large pheasant tails.  The majority of the fish you can expect in the lower section are browns, mainly 6-12 inches, but lots of them!

After getting your fill of small brownies, make your  way halfway up the river.   pull over right after the catch and release sign and you can expect to find lots of fish!  When temps warm, you can expect some fish eating off the top, while other fish can be found midging just under the surface.  BWO’s & Midges are always a safe bet.  #20 Jujubee and a small #18 Pheasant Tail is a good way to start.  As you begin  to see more fish rising tie on a  smallest Sprout Midge 22-24.  This will cover the summer trico hatch as well.  I have not tied a dry.

Click to View Video

Sight Fished to a small brown on the flats.  Neat eat from the fish.  Click the picture to the left to watch the video.

If you do make it all the way to the dam, expect to try and squeeze your way into a hole around a bend where you can get away from all the anglers.  Holy mackerel!… are there a lot of fish up there though!  These fish are much more selective, and rightfully so, they see a lot of people.  6 and 7x is a must and small flies as well.   Black beauties, Jujubaetis and miracle nymphs in sizes 20-24 will keep the rods bent most of the year.

Matt Carara with a nice Cutthroat Trout

The water in the canyon is often moderately low.  This means being careful with the amount of weight you use, too much and your flies come up with a bunch of moss.  A small tungsten bead head fly above your dropper will get your flies to the right depth most of the time.

Macro shot of a Cutthroat

11 Mile Canyon will often produce my first Cutthroats  of the year and provide the first reminder of how beautiful these fish are. I

Matt hooked up

When setting out to write this article, I got a little restless and starting walking around with the camera.  I climbed up a cliff to get a better vantage point and as soon as I got to the top, Matt hooked up.  I got a few shots of him while I was up there.  From this view, I could see all the fish in his hole, this was not the only fish I saw him land from up here.  I stopped counting at around 4 or 5.

Click to View Video

Matt caught a nice little rainbow on a flat below a run.  Click the video to the left to watch him land it.  Notice his small indicator, this was the trick.  A big indicator was spooking the fish as soon as it hit the water.  Matt and myself have become big fans of the Palsa pinch on indicators for spooky fish.  Overall it was a great trip into the canyon.  I cannot wait to get back there for the dry fly season.  The water needs to creep up into the 50’s to get the big bugs going.  Bring your small nymphs and dries, good 6-7x Flourocarbon tippet and some small indicators.  Have fun!




Matt fishing to a Brown Trout
Rainbow Trout Skin Macro
Matt with a fish on the flats

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

About the Author

Justin Nolan

More Articles