Upper South Platte River, Colorado
I fished the upper S. Platte R. in South Park over the weekend. Both days were quite warm tramping around in waist waders through cow pastures in which the river snakes around. Wading was quite easy and the river flow was down.
I started off fishing a red San Juan Worm and size 18 beadhead pheasant tail and immediately hooked up. Had a good amount of success on the BH PT but by mid morning I changed over to a hopper rig. Fished a small tan hopper with a yellow abdomen and topped with an orange indicator and did very well. The hoppers were especially effective tossed in front of and behind the partially submerged rocks. I changed over to a beetle for a dropper which was also quite successful. The trout were pretty much freely coming up with abandon but by late p.m. the thunderheads began clouding up the sky. Definitely not something to screw around with when your over 8000 up in elevation. So we hiked back to the vehicles.
Repeated lightning strikes down valley and the rumble of thunder overhead sent us scurrying into our vehicles. Amazing how thunder sounds right on top of you when you're at high elevation. Some rain showers with large drops came through and then there were some intermittent breaks. This went on for about an hour. In the meantime, we saw some risers on the far bank. My fly fishing partner chided me to wade out there and fish for them as I had previously tied on a pink post parachute Blue Wing Olive and Rusty Spinner, both in size 16 on a hunch before the rain started. Something about the change in air temperature and how the sunlight bathed the hills and pastures in a golden glow against a gray sky prompted that guess. Anyway, I politely declined given that I am now forced to use an aluminum wading staff for support. Wading out into the S. Platte with my wading staff while waving around a graphite rod at high elevation with lightning bolts in the distance did not seem like a very good idea. I'm past the point of being a willing ambulatory lightning rod. Nevertheless, my fly fishing partner finally took my rod and waded out and nailed several nice fish.
When the rain finally ceased and the thunderheads had blown over, the trout quit rising. Go figure. We saw some small Pale Morning Duns, tannish in color about a size 18 or 20. Never tied one on though other than going with the Rusty Spinner which turned out to be effective later on.
We also saw some caddis and a small Yellow Sally. My fly fishing partner said some of the caddis he saw had long antenna but I did not see them. Sounded like a longhorn caddis fly but I don't know anything about them. However, I can't recall ever having fished a caddis fly on that stretch of the river. Same with the Yellow Sally. I had never seen any stoneflies, nymphs or dries, until then though it wouldn't have surprised me if one caught a fish on a small golden stone nymph. Still, why bother?
Saw lots of midges but no action on them. Nor did I see any Tricos even though this should've been prime time for their appearance. Fly fishing partner dragged some streamers through a couple of holes and got strikes but not enough to make him stick with it.
Catching fish on Sunday proved to be a tougher go than the previous day. The trout weren't on the hoppers and beetles like the day before. They might take the hopper if you dropped it on their head but it seemed this was more of a territorial instinctual reaction than actually attacking the hopper to devour it. The trout were much more selective and in a few cases they were drifting under the fly following it downstream. However, my fly fishing partner finally discovered that you had to literally put the fly 2" from the bank, especially around rocks, points and cut banks. Got some very nice fish though. A black ant with a parachute post got more than a few takes. I also used a red Steel Worm with a size 18 red Copper John. The Copper John proved to be exceptionally effective, especially in the faster water.
Sunscreen, bug juice, polarized sunglasses and lots of drinking water are must-haves. Don't forget 'em. Keep an eye out for building thunderheads and allow yourself enough time to scurry back to your vehicle.