A Day of Firsts

5 minute read

What a day! We got out on the water a little later than usual, but it didn’t seem to matter. Everyone in the group landed a fish, and we caught two beautiful, big fish. The only damper on the entire day was due to Oscar (we’ll touch on this later).

All of the major action happened in one great stretch of water, so that’s where all the photos were taken. Read on to see what we caught!

The Spots

The Meadow

We started fishing a nice bend of the South Platte just below the parking area. There is a good stretch of meadow that the river curls around creating some nice riffles and very easy to access water. I didn’t get a bite in this stretch, but it was difficult at first to find the right weight for the water. The flows seemed pretty low in this section, and the only fast moving water was up against the bank near the road.

The Island

As our group moved down stream a bit, the meadow buts up against a very high embankment, and the river thins out as it approaches a small island. The majority of the flow goes downstream right and creates a nice stretch of water, while a small amount of water moves downstream left and cuts deep along the bank.

Beautiful water with lots of riffles
Beautiful water with lots of riffles.

The water on the left looked really interesting to me, and as I watched it for about two minutes, I saw a few smaller fish rising. The tail out from this set of riffles must have been tossing a bunch of bug life into the water and foam. I casted a few times, and in perfect “Murphy’s Law” fashion, I got stuck in the long grass hanging over the bank and needed to re-rig. I called John over and told him to cast into the tail out, and on his second cast he hooked a nice 12 inch bow.

After I rigged up, John moved downstream and let me fish the spot again. By this time, I could see lots of fish in the shallows at the end of the tail out. I had to catch a fish here because I knew I had sighted a great spot.

I cast a number of times and missed a hookup, but on one particularly long drift, I felt the leader hang and I set the hook. The flash of the greenish bow made me smile, and the fish surfaced twice breaching the water. It took me on 4 good runs - taking out a fair amount of line on my 4wt.

John and Greg both offered to help net the fish for me, so they got downstream of me. Greg missed his first try, which made me super nervous, but John was able to net it on the second try. As he pulled it out of the water and towards the bank, I knew I had a beauty. My first 16 inch bow landed on the 4wt. And if that wasn’t enough to smile about, I caught it using flies that I tied - a size 18 blood midge and a size 22 gray flashback rs2.

My biggest trout on a fly rod
My biggest trout on a fly rod.

After posing for the picture, John mentioned he had seen a huge shadow in the water downstream while netting my fish. He walked downstream, cast a few times, and ended up hooking into an absolute hog. I almost didn’t want to post the picture here because it dwarfs my accomplishment, but just seeing John’s face and the girth of this fish makes me smile. Nice fish, John!

John's monster hog bow
John’s monster hog bow.

The Deep Bend

As you continue downstream from the island, the meadow almost crosses over to the other bank and the river makes a large bend against a very steep bank. The water runs slower and deeper here, and wading is a bit tougher.

This is actually where the infamous Oscar event happened. Oscar is Greg and Jeremy’s cattle dog, and if there is one thing he cannot resist, it’s chasing rodents in the woods while we fish. I casted across the river maybe 20 yards ahead of me, and let me drift carry with the flow. At the exact moment my leader started to tail out, Oscar saw a black squirrel on the other side of the river and made a splash into the river. He swam directly over my line, exited the river, and shot up the far bank at top speed. Only he was hooked to my double-fly rig as well…

Oscar took me well into my Dacron backing before my leader snapped, leaving me with fly line pulled across the widest and deepest part of the river, and about 30 yards up a 50 degree embankment. I had to backtrack up river to find a suitable crossing, crawl up the embankment on all fours, de-tangle my line from a bramble bush, and then slide my way back to the water. As if that weren’t enough, Oscar was also still hooked with one of my flies - the size 18 blood midge - on his inner thigh. I mashed the barb with some pliers and it pulled right out.

This is a great note for myself and other anglers - if you’re fishing small hooks and tackle, there is no reason you should have barbs on your hooks. It makes it easier to de-hook your fish, yourself, and your pets if it comes to that. I’m going to start mashing the barbs on all of the flies I tie moving forward.

The Flats

The final piece of water we explored was a shallow, flat section that wound its way towards a campsite. I didn’t get a single bite through this stretch, but I saw fish every ten feet or so as I waded downstream. I think the bright light, the clear water, and the lower flow made the fish in this section a bit spooky.

Final Thoughts

This section of the South Platte at Deckers is a really nice section of water. There are so many fish here, it’s almost unbelievable if you don’t hook into something. The water access is also the most wading-friendly I have come across on the South Platte so far. Unlike Cheesman which has banks of scree and large boulders, or Eleven Mile with it’s deep canyon walls, Deckers seems to be very fisherman friendly - and all of this only 70 minutes from Denver.

Updated:

Drive time: 70 mins

Take I-25 S towards Colorado Springs and get off at Exit 187 for Happy Canyon Road. Continue until you see signs for US-85 N, then turn left onto CO-67 S. Bear right onto W Pine Creek Road, then left onto N Platte River Road. The spot is on your left as you come up over a hill.

Parking: The parking spot fits 3-4 cars. If you can't park here, you can likely park at the camp ground you pass on the drive in.

Other: There is a path from the parking spot down to the river. Make sure you follow it - it has a very easy grade down and to the right.