Thursday, December 9, 2010

On the River: 11 Mile Canyon, South Platte, Lake George, CO

July 31, 2010
August 7 and 14, 2010

It had been years since I fished 11 Mile Canyon (aka 11MC). Really, I had only fished it once, when I first moved to Colorado for college at Western State in Gunnison. It was more of a stop in really, and my memory of it was not that impressive. We caught fish, but I don't remember anything too massive. I certainly don't remember anything about a catch-and-release stretch. So, when I blogged about moving to Colorado Springs and one of my blog readers, Jim, mentioned he fished it all the time and would show me what he know, I was excited to say the least.

And so it was, on July 31st that Jim, his son Kevin and I hit the water and they introduced me to a river that I was amazed me. First off, we met at the river at about 6:30 AM to catch the tricos. While we didn't hit an "epic" day, we certainly weren't short of rising fish taking the falling spinners. When the spinner fall ended, most of the fish just kept rising to midges. We spent the morning making delicate cast after delicate cast, and enough rejections to make you crazy, but in the end a rods were bent and smiles were not lacking.

In fact, one of my favorite things about the day was the realization that there were a lot of fish in that river, and they were educated. They act as proper trout should - snubbing a fly if the drift was off, but greedily taking it if the presentation and imitation were accurate. I feel like most Colorado rivers have the X-factor of fish that will take anything that resembles a nymph, or slurp down your indicator leaving one baffled as to "why that happened". Not so with 11MC.

After the hatch was well over, I moved to midge pupa and baetis patterns. One of the first sights I was greeted with was 14" fish sitting in shin-deep gravel just waiting to be stalked, and then picked off by my favorite style of fishing - micro-nymphing.

I spent a large chunk of time walking the river, getting a feel for it and spotting fish. Probably even spent less time actually fishing then I usually would. By the end of the day I had caught my fill of fish and was convinced that this was my new home.

On the 7th, I returned with my wife and some friends of the family. The trico spinner fall was present, but not as strong and the fishing was a little tougher (mostly, I spent the morning trying to help our friends put one on the line).

On the 14th, Ben Robb (his good buddies Matt and Chris) and I headed up to give it a go. The tricos were still a force to be reckoned with and Ben landed this spectacular Brown that had decided to gorge on tricos just 25 feet upstream of him. I spent a lot of the day getting acquainted with some deeper nymphs and did very well in the seems and pocket water using a tungsten hare's ear trailed by a grey midge pupa.

I also discovered that there were Snake River Cutt's in the river and as is my habit to prove that there is something mentally wrong with them, I tied on a large Power Ant and had a nice 15" fish take it on the first cast. (Side note: Jay lived in Jackson for a number of years and we learned if a Chernobyl Ant won't get a SRC to rise, then just tie on a Power Ant. None of those food source made much sense so I concluded that these fish had brain issues. In my years since then I've never cast to a SRC, in any river system, that wouldn't rise to one of those two patterns! It works without fail from about May until Sept. I guess they are just opportunistic fish at heart.)

In the end, my Shan-gri-la view of 11MC was jaded a bit by realizing that the river is a zoo of fishermen, tubers and campers. Though that won't stop me from going back!

Thanks to Jim and Kevin for showing me the ropes. Now I've got to just get back out there with them in the winter!

Tight Lines,


  1. Looks like a decent day out ther Jeff, good read!

  2. Hello.

    I follow moved your blog, I am charmed with it.

    This statement has remembered very much a river that I fish, the river Tajo in Guadalajara, Spain.


    Alone I go fishing to dry fly and can assure you that to fish in the river Tajo is a marvel.

    Congratulations for your blog.

    A greeting.


  3. Jeff ...Great early morning surprise to see your article about our July fishing trip to the South Platte River. Kevin and I have logged many days in the canyon since. The canyon is getting a little chilly and the Arkansas below the Pueblo dam has been having great BWO and midge activity. Great afternoon there last Sunday. Give me a call and we will enjoy another day on the river together.

  4. Biggerfish: Thanks, good times. Don't you have Snake River Cutt's in the Uncompahgre? You should try out my Chernobyl Ant theory if you ever spot one!

    Lasmoscasdepaco: Thanks for the compliments, checked out your blog. Nice looking water. Maybe someday I'll make my way to Spain. I like the idea of bending a rod in all countries of the world someday!

    Jim: Yeah, I haven't logged too many. I love it up there but got burnt out on the crowds. Made it there once in the fall, but my wife isn't a huge fan yet. We had two bad visits in a row.

    My parents were in town over Thanksgiving and the weather was too bad to make it to the Frying Pan, so we hit the Ark in Pueblo twice. They must have just stocked it. TONS of small fish, but we hit a crazy baetis hatch too! I was surprised at some of the rejections I got from a 4" fish :) We will have to get out on the Ark together soon.

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