Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Location: Deckers
South Platte River 10/08/2021 Photo Album
If the readers of this blog believe that Wellerfish is immune to bad days, they are sadly mistaken. Friday is vivid proof of this reality.
A forecast of highs in the eighties in Denver motivated me to seek a fly fishing destination. I considered several options but ultimately chose the South Platte River below Deckers. I liked the idea of a tailwater with relatively constant temperatures, as night time air temperatures plunged, and reports announced the presence of blue winged olives. The drive to the South Platte was shorter than my trips on Monday and Wednesday, and that appealed to me as well.
I arrived at a parking space by 10:30AM, and I quickly moved through my preparation routine. As I began to apply sunscreen, my sunglasses slid between the passenger seat and the center console. If you are an automobile owner, you know what a hassle this can be. I probably spent fifteen minutes trying to recover the sunglasses, and eventually I discovered that the arm of the frames got hung up in the hardware under the seat. As I rejoiced in the recovery, I walked around the back of the car and banged my head against the corner of the partially raised tailgate. I spent another five minutes writhing on the ground in pain, as a knot formed on the right side of my forehead. With this inauspicious start to my day, I seriously considered returning to Denver for a sedentary afternoon on the couch.
290 CFS
The air temperature hovered in the low sixties, as I assembled my Sage One five weight. I bypassed extra layers and relied on my raincoat, in case wind and rain caused a temperature drop. Some dark clouds dominated the afternoon sky, and I pulled my raincoat on for warmth and in case of rain which never developed. The flows were around 219 CFS, and this was high compared to several spring visits in 2021.
As I began my tailwater adventure, I decided to use a deep nymphing technique. I attached a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, orange scud, and salvation nymph. The river was a bit murky, and periodic passing aquatic vegetation suggested the bottom had been stirred up. Scuds and worms seemed like obvious fish food options. Between 11AM and 1PM I progressed upstream with the nymphing rig and failed to attract a shred of interest in my flies. Along the way I experimented with a hares ear nymph, iron sally, RS2, and flesh-colored San Juan worm in addition to the scud and salvation nymph.
Love the Cattails
By 1PM I reached another parking lot, and given the lack of action on the nymphs, I decided to try a dry/dropper method. I knotted a tan pool toy hopper to my line and added a hares ear and RS2. I reasoned that this approach was ideal for the ten feet of water that bordered the bank, but I was certain that it was not effective in the 219 CFS flows through the middle of the river. I crossed a very wide and shallow section and bushwhacked downstream along the bank opposite the road, until I was just above another young angler. For the next 45 minutes I cast the dry/dropper to inviting pockets along the bank, and I managed to create two opportunities to land fish. In the first instance a fourteen inch rainbow rose and refused the hopper from a position underneath a pile of debris at the lip of the pocket. I reacted with a hook set and netted the fish with a trailing nymph embedded in the belly behind the gills. It was a “no counter”. Within the next fifteen minutes another smaller rainbow also refused the hopper, and once again I foul hooked the fish with a trailing nymph, but in this case the fish freed itself before feeling my net.
Wide Shallow Crossing Point
For the final hour I advanced up the river at a fairly rapid pace. I cherry-picked the bankside spots and looked for rises. Near the end of this exercise in water coverage, I flipped a cast to an eddy, and after a very brief pause the hopper disappeared. I set the hook, and a thirteen inch brown trout launched above the surface. In an instant the hook popped free, and a skunking avoidance slipped away. A stream of curses spewed from the angler’s mouth, but nothing could avert the fact that Friday was a fishless day for Wellerfish. I continued fishing for a few more minutes and then shuffled back to the car.
Foam Is Home
Although I was handed a blanking by the Deckers tailwater, I enjoyed my four hours on the river. My mind was constantly mulling over new strategies, and I managed three fish landing opportunities. I never saw another fisherman landing a fish, although my eyes were mainly glued to my flies and indicator. In retrospect I wish I had added a second split shot during the deep nymphing phase. I am certain the section contained fish, and deeper drifts with more weight may have been the proper response to flows of 219 CFS. San Juan worms and scuds should have worked!
Fish Landed: 0
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