Campin’ and Fishin’ on the South Platte

Feeling the urge to go camping this past weekend, along with the need to knock a destination off my summer to-fish list, I found myself in Eleven Mile Canyon with my buddy Leo and his husky Milli.

15We went down Friday afternoon with no camping reservations, which I was nervous about. But Leo seemed confident that we would find a spot so I went along with it. After driving around the campgrounds, we found that all the sites were either taken or reserved. Classic. Eventually, we had to just choose one of the reserved sites and cross our fingers that the Steshyn family, whose name was on the site, wouldn’t show up. Luckily they didn’t and we stayed there both Friday and Saturday night! I was Steve Steshyn for the weekend and Leo was Gary Steshyn. It was great.

Cold morning. First fish.

Anyway, on to the part where we catch a bunch of big fish!

The South Platte certainly has a reputation in Colorado and the crowds on the river and in the campgrounds is indicative of that. On Saturday, we fished from sunup to sundown with only about an hour or so break for lunch. It was crazy. The morning provided a really good dry fly bite with fish being caught on caddis and PMDs. We saw a few yellow sallies flying around during the day as well. The bite slowed mid-day as we switched to nymphing but picked up a little as evening came along.

Milli likes fishing

I’ve noticed that sometimes when it’s a little cloudy out and suddenly there’s a break that lets the sun through, fish will suddenly rise and hit a dry. This has happened to Leo and I a few times  in the past. Maybe a half hour before sunset, there was a break and Leo yelled out to me “Get ready, here it comes!” And just like that a big rainbow smacked my dry fly. I had cast over that spot maybe 20 times and it wasn’t until the sun popped out that he decided to hit. We called it a successful day after that.


On Sunday, we packed up camp early and drove to Deckers (my fav spot) for another full day of fishing. We got breakfast along the way in Woodland Park at Grandma’s Kitchen. I drank a lot of coffee and got super pumped to catch some fish.

As usual, Deckers was great. Mostly nymphing with some random bites on dries throughout the day. The trusty two-bit hooker (my fav fly) did the trick as did a double beadheaded caddis pupa. Fish seemed to be sitting in deeper pockets and runs. Leo caught a nice cutthroat on a drake and I’m convinced it was the same one I caught a week ago. Same spot, same fly, and looked about the same size.

It was a great weekend of fishing and I probably haven’t fish that hard since I moved to Colorado. The best part though- I didn’t lose a single fly all weekend! No idea how, but very grateful to the fishing gods.




Fishin Pics

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but not for a lack of fishing. This past month has been awesome all over Colorado. I won’t write a post for all of the trips but here are some pictures.

Poudre River

Poudre Canyon outside of Fort Collins


Out of focus rainbow trout


South Boulder Creek

South Boulder Creek in Walker Ranch has some of the prettiest fish





Ryan’s second fish ever on a flyrod
Cutthroat Trout
Ben, Leo and his dog Milli fishing the ledge
Last cast brown, caught on a griffith’s gnat


Big cutthroat that took a drake!

A Journey to the Arkansas River

What should have been a 3 hour drive down to Salida, CO turned into over a 5 hour drive through the middle of nowhere this past weekend as we forewent the use of a map. We eventually made it to the purported”gold-medal waters” of the Arkansas around 2pm. The cool thing about the detour was that we got to see some parts of Colorado that I’ve never seen before. The amount of Trump bumper stickers and Confederate flags were indications that we weren’t in the Denver-Boulder area anymore. Also, down there it seems a lot more like the desert with the cacti, lizards, and dryness. Anyway, it was interesting to see. We also saw a few mule deer bucks and even some pronghorn on the road!

Stonefly exoskeletons

Our first stop to fish was just outside of Cañon City. We wanted to avoid the rafters going down the river as much as possible, which proved almost impossible as the river was packed with them. We eventually found a quiet section that looked nice enough and went in to give it a shot. Leo caught 3 smaller browns here on a yellow stonefly and I missed a good sized rainbow that went for my hopper. There was a crazy amount of bug activity here, which was amazing to see. We saw tons of grass hoppers, huge stonefly exoskeletons, and caddisfly cases underneath rocks.

We soon moved on in search of better water and found ourselves going the rest of the way to Salida, which was a very happening town full of tourists and people playing Pokemon and whatnot. Being so busy, fishing in town was not really a good option so we went up a road along the river and found some trout. Leo caught a nice rainbow on his first cast and I caught a few smaller ones soon after. They were rising to yellow sallies and also seemed very keen on black zebra midges.

The Arkansas River in Buena Vista, CO

20160716_190101As the sun was starting to go down we decided to try one last spot in Buena Vista, another awesome town. Not knowing where to go, we just parked and walked down to what ended up being a kayak course with lots of falling water and eddies. I didn’t expect to catch anything here but ended up with a small brown that bit on a chubby chernobyl. Although not having caught a ton of fish overall, we left satisfied with seeing a good portion of the lower part of the Arkansas. Fishing new waters is tough but fun.

We took the fast way home, which was still about 3 hours but much better than the way we came. I certainly hope to go back to the Arkansas this summer as I know that there are much bigger fish to be caught.

First Cutthroat, Gross, and Deckers

I haven’t made a post in over two weeks, so here are some of my highlights over that time.

Rocky Mountain National Parkwp-1467384395853.jpg

My first Greenback Cutthroat Trout! And with breeding colors.

Went up to the Park with a couple of friends two weekends ago to try and catch some cutthroat trout, which has been on my bucket list all summer. We discovered that the lake we picked out actually had Greenback Cutthroats, which are native to Colorado and can only be found in a few high mountain lakes. The lake we hiked to was called Dream Lake. It was beautiful but also fairly crowded with tourists. It did in fact have Greenbacks though and they happened to be spawning while we were there. The water was crystal clear and you could see trout protecting their nests in the shallow water. The clear water made the fish really spooky and wary of flies but we were able to catch a few on egg patterns, worms, and jujubaetis. The bright red breeding colors were beautiful.

Emerald Lake. No fish in here but beautiful scenery.

Fishing was slow in the lakes so we drove back to the Fall River where I caught a couple of browns on a san juan worm and a blue poison tung. The Big Thompson still looked pretty high and so was the Fall but some stretches are definitely fishable.

Gross Reservoir

wp-1467384311613.jpgThis is becoming a go-to place for me. It’s about a half hour away and is paddle-only, which makes it feel like you’re in the Boundary Waters, but more mountainous. I’ve done a good amount of fishing here the last three weeks. The South Boulder Creek inlet is a great place to catch trout. They also allegedly have Kokanee Salmon and Tiger Muskie in here.

Flows into the reservoir have been fluctuating a lot. The key here is to find the boulders in the water and have your fly drift over them. We’ve had success on pheasant tails, blue poison tungs, two-bit hookers, stoneflies, and black zebra midges. You can also keep fish here and the water is really clean (it’s Denver’s drinking water). Last weekend, Sam, Leo, and I caught a couple nice rainbows and grilled them right by the water. We almost always catch and release, but it is nice to eat freshly caught fish once in a while.


wp-1467384416260.jpgwp-1467384407473.jpgLeo and I went back to my favorite place to fish last weekend. We weren’t as dialed in as we usually are here but weather was definitely a factor. A couple hours into the day we got stuck in a hail storm in the river. I tripped trying to cross and flooded my waders for the first time. That was fun. Also hail really hurts when you are wearing just a t-shirt. When we got back to the car I realized I left my sunroof cracked and there was just a pile of hail inside and everything was soaked, including my phone, which broke. But I finally got a smartphone now! Anyway, we caught a couple decent trout sight fishing the shallow parts and picked up a few in the deeper runs. Everyone here is going big with regard to flies but we did alright on smaller nymphs and emergers. Overall, it was a good day of fishing. Could’ve gone without the hail, but at the same time it opened up some of the better spots that are usually taken.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Trying to get some fishing in during this runoff season, I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to find some better water in the higher elevation. I was up there a couple weeks ago and it looked pretty good but now, like everywhere else, the streams are all blown out.

Big Thompson River in Moraine Park

I started my day fishing the Big Thompson in Moraine Park and found a nice slow part of water on a bend in the river. I cast on the edge of the slack and fast water and caught a brown. On my first cast! It bit on a pink tungsten squirmy wormy (a san juan pattern). After walking upstream through the flooded river plain a mile or so and not catching anything, I decided to go somewhere else. Some other fishermen I talked to hadn’t caught anything all morning, so I was happy that I was at least on the board.

Next, I went to glacier creek and found some nice undercut banks holding some small trout. I caught a couple of brookies here on a purple baetis nymph and a found a brown in some deeper water that bit on a blue poison tung.

Glacier Creek

Overall, not the best day of fishing, but the park is so beautiful if you stay away from all the crowded touristy spots. I came upon a herd of elk towards the end of the day, which are very abundant up there. A baby elk was trying to cross the river to get to the rest of the herd but couldn’t do it so it started crying and went back to the other side and mom just stood waiting in the middle of the river. I didn’t stick around to see the conclusion of the saga, but it was a pretty interesting glimpse into the life an elk and its family.

Baby elk trying to cross the river

I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t catch a cutthroat while I was here. I will be back soon, hopefully when conditions are better, to do so and to get my first grand slam (brook, brown, cutthroat, and rainbow).

A Georgetown Giant

Rainbow Trout, caught on a size 16 BH Hare’s Ear

I drove up to Georgetown after work yesterday expecting to catch a few 8-10 inch trout, and maybe a 12 incher if I was lucky. I did not expect to hook into this monster.

This fish was truly a catch of a lifetime. One where you cheer out loud after landing it, even though you’re by yourself. It took me a good 15 minutes to bring in. It bit on my bottom fly, which was tied to 6x tippet (~3 lb test) and I was sure it was going to snap it. She gave some head shakes like a big redfish would and did a couple aerials that were cool/really scary. It was definitely a battle. The first time I saw her in the water I really couldn’t believe it. Georgetown does not have fish that big.


I’m convinced this was one the biggest fish in the lake at the time and possibly one of the biggest ever caught in Georgetown. Bold statement, I know. But, state surveys have the largest fish in Georgetown Lake recorded at 17 inches, a brown trout. This was probably 22 to 23 inches. I’ve fished Georgetown a decent amount and have seen nothing close to that size. Most are 1-2 year old stocked trout and a lot of those get harvested each year due to such high fishing pressure. The guy who came over and took the picture has lived in Georgetown for years and said he has never seen or heard of anything close to it either. So, although I can’t prove it was the biggest fish in the lake, I’m going to stick to my belief that it was. I might have caught the biggest fish in the lake. And not just some little pond either, a 55-acre reservoir that is one of the most popular lakes in the area to fish. I’ll probably never do something like that again.

I am happy to say that I quickly took the picture and released her back into the water and watched her swim off. A fish like that definitely deserves respect and a quick release.

Runoff Season

Not a ton of fishing being done by me the past couple weeks. I started a new job and have had a bunch of friends in town visiting, which is awesome but has cut into my fishing time. It is also runoff season. All the snow in the mountains is melting rapidly and filling up every freestone stream and river making it really hard to fish. The daily rain isn’t helping very much either in that regard.

Rainy South Boulder Creek

We went up to Rocky Mountain National Park last week and the smaller streams there look pretty prime for fishing. There is still snow up in higher altitudes but some of the lakes are starting to open up. May be this coming weekend’s destination for me.

Upper reaches of some tailwaters, like the Blue River in Silverthorne or South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir should be low and clear enough to fish. They did just raise the flow from the dam on the Blue River a couple days ago to 900 cfs. I would be curious to see how that changed the water. I fished South Boulder a couple times in the past week and the further upstream I went, the better it looked. Had some dry fly action on crippled blue-winged olives in the afternoon as well as some catches on nymphs, such as rainbow warriors and jujubaetis.

Another option during this runoff season has been the always trusty Georgetown Lake. I fished there a couple times the past week or so and have noticed the big browns have come up from the deeper part of the lake. We’ve had success catching rainbows and browns on dries, hare’s ears, jujubaetis, and blue poison tungs. Most of my luck has come while dead drifting in the upper part of the lake where there is more current coming from the inlet.

Georgetown Brown Trout