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In a previous post I suggested that the South Platte below Deckers is no longer worthwhile for anyone seeking to catch wild trout. Mostly I blamed the Hayman Fire for ruining a charming stretch of water, from Deckers to Strontia Springs Reservoir.

Now it's time to eat some crow. But what a pleasure it was learning I was wrong.

With business to do on Friday, May 26, in Woodland Park, I threw my gear in the truck and hit the Platte via Sedalia and Spring Creek Road. To my surprise, the river was more crowded than I'd seen it in years. Since the fire, most of my Platte fishing has been done in Cheeseman Canyon, a wonderful spot but frustratingly crowded. And for many of us, very tricky to figure out.

Thanks to some posts I'd read on this board, I came armed on Friday with caddis flies, #16 and #18, tied Troth style. In 40 years of fishing the Platte, I'd never considered it a caddis stream, though, sure, I'd seen them and caught fish on them. But nothing like, say, the Arkansas.

I didn't fish Friday morning 'cause I couldn't get on the river -- it was that crowded. Did my business in Woodland Park and returned at 2 p.m. To my surprise (again) I found no cars at the Bridge Crossing parking lot. I paid my four bucks (dammit!) and starting firing caddis at the big hole that runs just across from the john. This hole gets hammered daily, four seasons a year.

My third cast produced a small brownie, which I took to be a good omen. If the DOW is stocking fingerling browns, it's news to me. Several casts later, the #16 caddis produced a rainbow that, years ago, I would have quickly identified as a typical South Platte rainbow -- is it an actual strain? maybe -- but anyway, this 'bow went 18 inches, no scarring, beautifully colored and heavily muscled. He put my 4-weight to the test and put joy in my heart!

FYI, no visible caddis hatch was underway, and the takes were sipping, not slashing.

After a couple more hours, here and there, I came away with newed respect for my old stompin' grounds. No, I don't think the Platte is all the way back, not yet. But I've got hope. Something tells me this summer is gonna be a blast.

That 18-incher (three pounds easy, I'd say) is still swimming. probably in the same hole. Just hope he surives the holiday weekend so we can meet again.
 

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That 18-incher (three pounds easy, I'd say) is still swimming. probably in the same hole. Just hope he surives the holiday weekend so we can meet again.
And I'm sure that 13 inch fish was safely handled and returned with as little shock to its system as possible.  Way to go WBM. ;) ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, nymph-n-man, I took the advice from another poster, on another board, and slipped him onto a stringer for the afternoon. Then I carried him around the parking lot so kids could handle him and admire me for catching such a dazzling creature. After putting him back in the water, he went immediately downstream. Upside down, maybe, but dowsnstream. So I'm assuming he's fine.

M. in P., are you listening?
 
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How long has it been since you have fished the platte?
The four inch(sometimes smaller) bows and browns that occasionally take my fly is a good indication that there are wild trout above and below deckers. Recently there have been large numbers of half inch(maybe smaller) fish gathered in little pools. Indicating a good spawn this year(I hope). Was up there yesterday(PACKED) and hooked probably 60 fish, and landed 40. Six or seven were over 18. One that evaded my net was close if not 24. Your post made it seem like below deckers suprised you as a good fishery. Does FandG even stock the deckers area? Have they done so in the past 15 years? Deckers is 40 minutes from my house(30 from work), I spend probably 100 days a year fishing that area, after work(the good lord has blessed me with a job where I get off at 3pm sometimes earlier), before work, days off, and any other chance I get.
Next time ya make it up there, shoot a number 16 BHprince off the back of your caddis. A large majority of the fish I catch this time of year on that stretch of the platte are taken on a prince. And I have to disagree with your statement that it is not a caddis river. Maybe not like the ark or the CO, but lets be honest, when was the last time you saw 24 or bigger fish coming out of the ark? 3 weeks ago I enjoyed a BLANKET caddis hatch. The water was COVERED in caddis. Hard to tell mine from the naturals. Go flip a few rocks at deckers right now and tell me it isn't a caddis river. They are there, for sure. You say you have been fishing the platte for 40 years, and I am not doubting you, but maybe things have changed since the last time you fished it. Or maybe you should fish it more often.
Cheers
 
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Another thing. Since that @$#%^$% movie came out flyfishing has EXPLODED in popularity. And crowding more than ever has become a problem. However it shouldn't discourage you from fishing. Cause its only gonna get worse. And if you have been fishing the platte for 40 years, I assume long expeditonary trips to unfished streams 4 days hike are out of the question. Ever fished Alaska during the runs, or any other salmon rivers in the northwest? I count my lucky stars there aren't that amount of anglers on my home waters. The only way to avoid crowding now a days is to buy a ranch on the Beaverhead, or to join a club.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OK, Troutbum, I read your posts yesterday and laughed them off. Some internet guy disagrees with me, so what? He's got a right to his opinion, even if he's wrong.

But I slept on it and decided to respond. To answer your first (rude) question: "How long has it been since you fished the Platte?" You'll find the answer early in the post. It had been the day before I posted, as stated. Why was that difficult?

Thanks for the suggested flies (prince nyphs). My Platte box is packed with them. May I suggest you try a little number called a Pheasant Tail? Or an RS-2?

Then you say, "I have to disagree with your statement that the Platte is not a caddis river."

OK, disagree with me. But let's invite a panel of experts into the discussion. Here's what Marty Bartholomew says: "(Caddis) emergences are not very heavy, and they usually happen in late afternoon and evening." (p. 10, Flyfisher's Guide to Colorado, Wilderness Adventur Press, 2002.)

Let's now hear what Pat Dorsey has to say: "Caddis hatches along the South Platte drainage are less prolific than mayflies and midges, and the sheer density of caddis found on Western freestone rivers ... far outnumbers that found on the South Platte." (p. 129, A Flyfisher's Guide to the South Platte River, Pruett Publishing, 2005.)

And let's not forget Roger Hill, whose book was considered the bible for South Platte anglers, and remains a must-read for anyone serious about the river. Here's his first word on the subject: "Caddisflies present few problems to the South Platte angler, perhaps because there are so few of them."

It may be, Trout Bum, that your knowlege and experience on the Platte far surpasses any of those gentlemen. I don't know. But I do know whose opinions I respect, and whose I laugh at.

The point of my post, obvious though unstated, was that the Hayman Fire may have re-engineered the South Platte's ecology, particularly below Deckers, because that's where the brunt of the damage came. (Yes, Cheeseman Canyon has been harmed by Hayman, too, but that's a subject for another thread.)

You don't talk much about Hayman in your post, which leads me to suspect you don't know much about the effects. The harm below Deckers came from Horse Creek, which carried tons of ash and silt into the Platte, restructuring it in many places. The sludge and gravel came from two tributaries, Trout Creek and West Creek, on opposite sides and valleys from Highway 67 between Deckers and Woodland Park. Anyone who fished the Platte prior to Hayman can tell you the same sad story: The water ran gray for two years, and even today does not approach the clarity and sparkle we once knew.

Perhaps the caddis hatches we're seeing this spring on the South Platte are a seasonal anomoly, and will disappear next year. Or maybe not. That's why I asked for the opinion of others.

As for your 60-fish days on the Platte, I'll pass along a bit of advice given to me as a kid, by an older man whose advice I also valued: "If you're still counting fish after a dozen, son, you may already have exceeded your I.Q." I take no position here, I merely pass on what was said to me.

Maybe you'll be lucky enough to learn to fish for the experience, not some meaningless number. I've had one-fish days that sent me home ecstatic, and multiple-fish days that didn't come close to those one-fish days. Sometimes the best memory is the one that got away. But if counting appeals to you so much, maybe you should count your casts, also. Then we could devise a three-digit fish-per-cast ratio that would work like a batting average. Or maybe not.

Or maybe we could all just shut up and fish. Good luck.
 

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I know a guy that did pretty good with an egg pattern up there. Don't know about the rest of it. Too many folks up there for me ;o)
 
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