Friday, September 1, 2017

South Platte River, CO Trip Openings

South Platte River September 25-30

One spot is filled. Only one spot left!

How would you like to be able to spend 5 nights with 4 days fishing on one of the country’s premier trout rivers? And you can do it for around $500 total cost including lodging, breakfast and evening meals. Sound too good to be true? Well in this case it isn’t. Due to the recent hurricane that ravaged the Texas coast two anglers have had to drop out of this 4 angler trip to Colorado Springs to fish 3 locations on the South Platte River and an alpine lake loaded with some of the most beautiful cutthroat trout you have ever seen!

The dates are set for the last week in September. We will depart north Texas early on Monday September 25 and return Saturday September 30. If you are from a different region of the country you can get to Woodland Park and meet us there. The lodging is a fully appointed 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in beautiful Woodland Park, CO which is 20 miles northwest of Colorado Springs. At an elevation of over 8,400 feet and surrounded by alpine mountains, Woodland Park is one of the most picturesque cities in the country. Breakfast and evening meals will be prepared hot, daily from a set menu or we can eat out at the many local establishments. That aspect can be determined beforehand. Lunches can be prepared for you or you can bring your own.  


We will be fishing what are arguably three of the most famous and sought after stretches trophy trout water in the country! These are pristine stretches of river that are full of wild, stream bred rainbow, brown, cutthroat and cutbow trout.

The tentative itinerary looks like this:
Tuesday, day 1-Fishing will be on the Dream Stream stretch of the South Platte river approximately a one hour drive from our lodging. This strectch of river gets it’s nickname by making angler’s dreams come true. Every fall brown trout of up to 34” are taken as they migrate to the tailwater of Spinney Reservoir. There aren’t many of these behemoths, some anglers fish for years without ever hooking one and even fewer anglers land them but that’s why they are the fish of a lifetime. But fear not! The river hosts a healthy resident population of rainbow, brown, cutthroat and cutbow trout that average 18” with large specimens over 24” fairly common. If that’s not enough then add in the chance to catch kokanee salmon as they migrate up out of Elevenmile Reservoir and stage alongside the staging brown trout. PLEASE TAKE NOTE!!!!!! We will NOT be fishing for actively spawning fish. If the brown trout are on redds, which is highly unlikely, we will NOT target them. Historically they do not move on to active beds until weeks after our scheduled trip.

Wednesday, day 2- We will be fishing in Elevenmile Canyon, which is a little closer to Woodland Park at just a 40 minute drive. Elevenmile Canyon is no secret to the angling fraternity and with good reason. This beautiful stretch of river lies within a granite walled canyon and flows from the dam at Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir. This stretch of river is a sight to see and visually a complete contrast to the Dream Stream section of the river. With everything from plunge pools to long quiet runs this stretch of river offers something for any and every style of fly fishing. The majority of the trout landed here are browns that range in size up to 20” though I have heard tales of larger browns being taken. The real treat here is the dry fly fishing for cutthroats which I have personally taken up to 24”! These are picky trout with an appetite for tiny flies drifted perfectly. In total contrast the deep seams, plunge pools and rapids scream for a dead-drifted nymph, the smaller the better. September is an excellent time to fish Elevenmile due to the prolific hatches and minimal crowds. You can expect to find BOW, PMD, Trico and caddis hatches along with a still healthy populating of terrestrials to keep the trout looking up. The wading and climbing in and out of the river are more demanding than the Dream Stream-which is a piece of cake by the way- so being physically fit is important, especially since Thursday will be even more demanding.

Thursday, day 3- We will be making a trek into the famous Cheesman Canyon stretch of the South Platte River. Cheesman Canyon is a 45-minute drive from Woodland Park many miles downstream from Tuesday and Wednesday’s fishing locations. Of all the waters in Colorado, Cheesman Canyon is considered the most picturesque by almost all who enter and make the trek we are scheduled to make! It is also unique in that it requires a 2-mile hike at approximately 8,000 feet elevation to get to the sections we will be fishing but the hike is well worth every step! Once in the canyon with boots planted firmly in the river you will have the opportunity to fish over some the most selective trout in the country. These trout live in pristine clear water that is loaded with tiny insects. The trout here don’t see as much pressure as other stretches of the South Platte yet somehow they are inherently selective and that’s the challenge. This stretch of river is a nympher’s dream. You will be able to sight fish to some very large rainbow, cutthroat, brown and cutbow trout. You will also have the opportunity to fish deep slots, seams and pools where you will be relying on nothing but your nymphing skills to detect subtle strikes from trout that you may not be able to land once hooked! There are brutes in this section of the river. The bonus here is the dry fly fishing, the catch is that it doesn’t always occur. Conditions have to be right but when they are trout up to 20” will sip tiny flies from the surface in challenging lies, a situation that may well test your patience and casting skills to the limit.

 Friday, day 4 and our last day on the water- We will be driving up to an alpine lake managed by the city of Colorado Springs. This will be our longest driving day but also the shortest fishing day. We will want to arrive at the gate before 7:00 a.m. ready to go, because we have to be out the gate before 2:30 p.m. when the gate is locked for the evening. I can’t say enough about this lake and the awesome cutthroat that live there. Lake fishing for trout is completely different from river fishing and will require different flies and techniques but these trout are worth it. This is not a numbers lake it is a size and beauty lake. These are definitely some of the most beautifully colored trout in the world! If you are a tyer I can supply photos and recipes for the go-to flies and if you are not a tyer I can supply them or they can be purchased locally.

Having a short day on Friday will give us the opportunity to get back to the lodge by mid-afternoon and get all our gear squared away. We will be leaving pre-dawn on Saturday morning for the drive back to north Texas.


Another thing to note is that I am NOT a guide and will NOT be actively guiding. This is a DIY fishing trip. I know the waters we will be fishing very well and have had great success over the years on all the stretches of river mentioned. I have only been on this alpine lake once and my personal success was…..well there wasn’t any due to extreme hard headed stubbornness on my part in refusing to fish the way my guides told me to. That said everyone else in the party caught trout. I won’t make the mistake of squandering the opportunity to land one of those beauties again!

If you are a reader of Southwest Fly Fishing magazine you may have seen articles covering the Dream Stream (May/June 2017) and Cheesman Canyon (July/Aug 2017) in recent issues. I haven't written about Elevenmile Canyon.....yet.

Because it's always a question here's how the expenses break down. The only hard expense is the lodging at $350. Beyond the lodging expenses are an estimate to cover gas to get to and from Colorado, food, fishing license and incidentals. You may want to bring a few dollars along for a stop at Angler's Covey in Colorado Springs.

Please note that Thursday's hike into Chessman Canyon is a demanding hike. On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is sitting in a lawn chair beside a river and 10 is scaling a cliff with a rod in your teeth the hike itself is a 6 if you can handle the altitude. If you have never been at altitude or have trouble with it it will be 8 on that same scale.

If you want more details I can be reached at 719-640-2198. Please note that I don’t usually answer calls from numbers I don’t already know. Leave a message and I will call you back promptly.

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