Friday, January 15, 2010

On the River: Dream Stream, South Platte River

November 7 and 21, 2009

Michelle and I travel to Colorado Springs quite frequently to visit friends and family. Whenever possible, I try and sneak away for a half day or so and hit some of the great rivers in that area. The Dream Stream (South Platte between 11 mile Reservoir and Spinney Reservoir) has always had an allure to it.

Sure, it gets packed with fisherman looking for "the big one", coming to put a notch on their belt, and earn bragging rights with their friends - it's nice to do that every once in a while. In all fairness though, It is a pretty excellent river. Other than privately owned water, the state has a general lack of "spring creek" water, and while the Dream Stream, Cheeseman, Black Canyon and the Taylor C and R are not spring creeks, tailwater rivers do create a very spring creek-like environment.

I actually feel that is the main draw for me to go to these rivers. The monster fish are fun (and a typical, true spring creek does produce monsters as well because they are insect factories), but I really am there because they are finicky, small fly, hard-to-catch, sight nymphing (and dry-fly) fish.

Having said all that, when the opportunity arose, I jumped at a few chances to fish the Dream Stream, especially during my favorite season ... the late Fall, when crowds have diminished on the river.

To my sadness, the Dream Stream is definitely an exception to that rule. In fact, I think the crowds were stronger. We showed up at about 9 AM on both days and there were already 15 cars that had beat us, and that was just to the one parking spot, I could see glistening fields of cars at various other locations. In my limited experience with this river it does make sense, and I even think that the late fall, all the way through spring, is where the river gets its moniker.

Having fished the river in the middle of the summer, and not being too impressed, I am convinced that it is primarily a psuedo-steelhead river. There seem to be increased numbers of rainbows (most likely lake run) in the river starting in the fall, and they are probably bulking up for their spring spawning season. You will also find almost everyone on the river in this timeframe fishing an egg pattern, or bright fly, of some sort.

In these two outings we did well. The first trip was Ben and I, and we spent the morning targeting a couple of fish in the 24"+ range down in the lowest stretch, just above 11 Mile. We each hooked up with one of them. Ben tied into a brown that was pushing the 32" mark with his first cast on a Blacktail Baetis. The fish actually swung for the fly!!!! But, it was a short 3 second fight before the fly pulled out.

I also hooked a large Kokanee on a baetis pattern, picked up a few fish on the Poly-wing Baetis (the late fall on the Dream Stream can have EPIC baetis hatches if the wind isn't too crazy). The real stumper of the day was pods of feeding Cutthroat that I tried my hardest and couldn't get to happen.

Most of the Cutts were well over the 20" mark, and I would find them congregated together. They were definitely feeding, and I exhausted most of my patterns on them, pulling all the stops, fishing midge down to size #26 on 7x. I lipped a few here and there but never landed one of the bigger ones. I would run across the occasional riser, tie on a Poly-wing Baetis, land him and then move on, but none of the risers ever topped the 18" mark.

The second day was just Michelle and I and fished almost exactly like the day Ben and I were there. Being two weeks later, there were definitely more rainbows in the river, so our hook-ups were more frequent. We did take a few fish on egg patterns, but when possible, I still stuck to fishing the Gammarus Scud, Blacktail Baetis, Poly-wing Baetis and midge.

All in all, it was some pretty spectacular Fall fishing, except for the ever-present wind.

Tight lines,



  1. looks like a great day and some nice photos to prove it!!! Keep it coming

  2. Thanks, it was pretty fun, especially considering we had that "mini" Indian Summer (I guess now it's Native American Summer), and the weather wasn't too cold.

    If only I could stop wind from blowing life would be perfect ...

  3. That stretch is always windy. Even on calm days, there's a breeze blowing. I don't think I've ever been there when the wind wasn't blowing. I bet the wind even gets sick of the wind after a while.

    Looks like a good day on the river.

  4. That's brilliant ... "even the wind gets sick of the wind". I couldn't agree more!

    Yeah, it was good, Ben went back two weeks later and the fish had moved into the river in even larger numbers.