Colorado’s South Platte River is a must fish destination for any angler

Jan 10, 2019

Colorado’s South Platte River is a legendary river known for its excellent trout fishing. It is conveniently located an hour from Denver (30 or so miles), so accessing the South Platte is a cinch. Averaging 4,000 to 8,000 fish per mile of river, you can expect many anglers to be out fishing right there with you, meaning it can get crowded at times. Luckily, the river is so large that you’ll be able to find some solitude after a little exploring. Aside from fishing, the Platte River is famous for its beautiful granite boulders that are unique to the area.

Location and Geography

The South Platte river flows through two states: Colorado and Nebraska. It starts its flow in the Mosquito Range in the center of Colorado, where it runs south east for a total of 380 miles. From there, is joins the North Platte River in western Nebraska, and flows across the state to meet the Missouri River. As it nears Denver, a series of reservoirs and dams spring up along the river, including Cherry Creek, Cheesman, 11 Mile Canyon and Antero. (Source: https://www.britannica.com/place/South-Platte-River). These dams are very productive fishing spots. The Deckers section of the Platte River is a popular area and is known for its trophy trout above 20 inches!

Aquatic Species (10 Total)

TROUT

  • Brown trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Brooke Trout

OTHER

  • Carp
  • Smallmouth
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Suckers Fish
  • Catfish
  • Walleye

Food by Season

Midges

Season – Year Round

Colors – Back, White, Olive

Sizes – 18-20

Mayfly

Season – February through December

Colors – Olive, Grey, Black, Yellow

Sizes – 18-20

Caddis

Season – April through November

Colors – Olive, Brown

Sizes – 14-18

Stonefly

Season – January through March, May through November

Colors – Yellow, Tan

Sizes 8-14, 12-18

Terrestrial

Season – April through September

Colors –Yellow, Tan, Olive

Sizes – 10-16

Damsels

Season – May through September

(Source – https://thecatchandthehatch.com/south-platte-river-waterton-canyon/)

Best Fishing Techniques

Winter: Right before the river begins to freeze, there is a good opportunity to catch big fish, as they gorge themselves on food to stock up for the winter. According to TroutFlyFishing.com, “An egg or a san juan worm followed by baetis or midge patterns are sure to get the attention of a fish, however, don’t forget to fish your caddis patterns.”

Spring: The spring migration of rainbow trout begins late March, early April. Caddis, Mayflys, and Terrestrials are all confidence bugs that should be used.

Summer: Summer is best for dry fly fishing. A 5wt 9 foot rod with 5x tippet is best to properly present a dry fly to a hungry fish.

Fall: The migration of brown trout begins in late fall. Some big fish can be taken on streamers. You’ll need a sinking line to get your fly deep down into the strike zone and entice a trophy fish.

Tip! Matching the hatch is always a necessity, especially when fish are being picky. Pick a fly and if it does not produce, try changing the size of the fly before you change the type of fly.

Summary

The South Platte River is a must fish destination for all fly fisherman alike. It holds an abundance of freshwater fish, with thousands of fish per mile of river. Although the area gets crowded, it is for a good reason: there are fish to be caught. If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, Denver might be a good stop. At quick 30 mile drive can put you in front of some of the best fly fishing waters Colorado has to offer!

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