Trophy brown trout from the Middle Fork of the South Platte

We are going to see some interesting conditions on the South Platte River this fall.  The state is currently experiencing drought like conditions but when rivers are below dams that are controlled based on downstream water demand, drought like conditions do not necessarily mean low water.  Depending on the section of the South Platte you are at, you could see anything from unseasonably high water to low flows and dangerously warm water temps.

South Platte at Deckers Report:

The South Platte at Deckers is currently 550 cfs, well above normal for this time of year.  That is because despite the drought, Denver still needs drinking water.  The popular North Fork of the South Platte is closed, which means the South Platte below Cheesman Reservoir is responsible for providing Denver water.  These flows are expected to stay high (400 cfs or above) for at least the next few weeks.  With the water being up bigger flies like worms, scuds, and leeches are working but I am still having my best luck with the smaller options that regularly produce on this technical fishery.  Midges and small BWO patterns have been getting me most of my eats.

South Platte below 11 Mile Reservoir:

Denver Water is currently doing repairs on the South Platte River below 11 Mile Reservoir.  Because of this, the flows are expected to stay in the 60-65 cfs range.  This has been leading to some very warm water conditions on one of our favorite private water fisheries, Abell River Ranch.  This property is known for its fantastic dry fly fishing.  This will continue to fish well, we will just you longer leaders for the spookier fish and make sure to be off the water if the water temps get above 65 degrees.  Tricos will continue to hatch which will also provide good dry fly opportunities, especially during the Spinner falls.

South Platte below Spinney (Dream Stream):

With the dam repairs happening downstream, 11 Mile Reservoir cannot afford to let too much water flow into it as it must keep the outflow at 65 cfs or below.  Because of this, Spinney Reservoir is only releasing flows of 67 cfs.  These low flows will continue as long as the downstream dam repairs are going on so unfortunately, the Dream Stream will be seeing low flows until mid November.  This is pretty disappointing, especially considering October is when the large migratory Brown Trout move into this stretch of river.  The lower flows will mean the fish will stack up in just a couple of pools.  This can lead to even heavier the normal angling pressure (fishermen won’t spread out as much) but also fish getting foul hooked and not ideal spawning conditions.  We are asking anglers to be respectful to both the fish, and other fisherman, if on this stretch of river during these low flows.

Middle Fork of the South Platte:

Tomahawk State Wildlife Area, Badger Basin State Wildlife Area, and Santa Maria Ranch, are all experiencing low flows in the 15 cfs range. If we get a little bump in flows due to rain the fishing here drastically improves.  If not, might be best to pick a different fishing option or be sure to get off the water if the temps get too high.