South Platte River Tomahawk | Santa Maria Ranch

South Platte River Tomahawk | Santa Maria Ranch



Dave Olsen with a South Park Fall Brown Trout



It must be fall when we start fishing the Middle fork of the South Platte! The weather was very cold in the morning and the valley is already getting heavy frost at night.  This means the big fall browns have been triggered to spawn.  It is still early and the huge numbers of fish are not in the river yet, but we saw a handful of big fish already in the river.  The fishing was best in the morning, once the sun was high the fish slowed down a bit.

Dave with a nice bow caught on a #16 Prince Nymph

The river is no longer high, the flow is at the typical low fall flows.  This means you have to be stealthy and creep up on your holes.  Dry flies are no longer the staple on the Middle Fork of the South Platte River.  You have to get down and dirty with the fish.  This means heavy nymph rigs in the deep holes.  Streamers were the way to get the big browns, this is the time of year the hormones begin to rage and they get very territorial.

Dave with another nice Rainbow caught on a #14 Guides Choice

We are just beginning my favorite time of year.  The brown are spawning, the weather is cooling off, water is low and clear and the crowds are dissipating.  It is now time to get out and chase after big fish!

Your typical Middle Fork brown trout

At the end of the day, Dave allowed me to fish for a while.  We stayed late, right up until dark.  Right before we were about to leave, I suggested we walk the property and find the top boundary, and Dave was all for it.  Once we got to the top, Dave and I kept seeing a fish chasing little fish around.  He handed me the rod and I went after it.  First cast with the Slumpbuster and she inhaled it!  Right when I hooked her, she ran straight downstream taking 40 feet of line instantly.  I literally jumped over a bush into the river and ran after her.  At the end of the run I was ready to net her, but my net was caught on my rubber hemocuts!!!  I couldn’t get it off!  Right then, the fish ran over the diversion and wrapped around a giant stick.  I jumped over and ripped the stick out from under the rocks, and the fish was still there!  So now I had a 20 inch brown on the end of the line with a 3 foot stick attached above it.  I had lost all control, the water logged stick kept me from controlling the fish, but I finally managed to net her.  I wouldn’t be telling this story if it weren’t for all the chaos I went through.  It was pure luck that I was even able to land the fish.  Meanwhile Dave had the camera trying to get it all on film, I think he got a great laugh from watching the entire circus.  Check out the video below of me looking like goof.

nice fish right at the end of the day
Sunset at Santa Maria Ranch
Releasing a colorful fall Brown Trout

What you will need for South Park:
7.5ft 4 and 5x leaders
3x, 4x and 5x Fluorocarbon Tippet
#1, BB and AB  split shot
#14-16 Worms Red and Pink
#16 BH Prince Nymph
#16 Golden Stoneflies
#18-22 Jujubaetis
#18-22 RS-2
#12-14 Guides Choice Hares Ear
#16-20 Pheasant Tails
#18-22 Zebra Midges (Red and Black)
#18-20 Parachute Adams
#08-10 Slumpbuster Olive/Black/Brown
#16-18 Cheese or Orange Flashtail Eggs
Dry Shake

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

About the Author

Justin Nolan

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