If you’re going to hit the upper South Platte, might I suggest getting up early. Notoriously windy afternoons aside, it’s been clear in South Park the last few days. The water is running around 200cfs, and just as spotless as the afternoon sky. The fish are spookier than a Steven King flick, but there is still plenty of opportunity…particularly for the early bird.
On last visit, main man [Tim] Marek and I picked up measly half-dozen fish. And we missed probably twice that, which was particularly ugly since we were sight fishing a good portion of the time. When you make three casts to a rainbow that’s hopping between feeding lanes like a stock car making up ten places in a crowded pack, only to look away the very moment it actually eats the fly, you deserve every denigrating comment your spotter throws your way thereafter. I spent the majority of my day on the receiving end of what we’ll hereinafter categorize as blunt criticism.
Meanwhile, lieutenants Greg Drapeau and Nate Taylor, who we expected to bump into there, were wading in shorts and beach sandals. They had their flies weighted down like a mob accountant’s feet after turning state’s evidence. And while they didn’t fare any better than us from noon to dark, their description of the morning made us think that breakfast isn’t necessarily for champions. Greg reminded us (with fervor) that he had picked up ten fish between 7am and 9am, and before Nate even got on the scoreboard, but conceded his partner in crime caught up quick. Any twenty fish day on the South Platte is a damn good one, particular since anything under fourteen inches is considered a dink in this section (and usually gets eaten by their cousin the predator unless it hides six inches below the stream bed for the first two years of its life).
Flies of the day for our South Platte jaunt could be summed up in one word, caddis. While Tim did get one trout to sip a stimulator, up or down the key to success was everyone’s favorite early summer bug. Hatches occurred throughout the day, but winged sightings were sporadic so we fished a lot of pupa and larvae patterns. And while we did pick up some stonefly larvae in the grass, the fish just weren’t interested in bonafide meat – even a dusk time jaunt down river with big rods and even bigger flies didn’t produce a single strike.
Hindsight is sometimes 20/20, but in the case of fly fishing half the battle is just plain luck of the draw. The aging (or should we say realistic about their age) half the crowd got lucky at our traditional pit stop the Silverheels – there was a wide selection of lunch fave, the gourmet Millonzi’s sandwich, to choose from. Our meal kicked butt as a result, while I imagine the younger crowd snacked on crackers and Cheez Wiz. Knowing the lay of the land always makes for a fine day, and is a definitive product of experience.
Or at least that’s what we told ourselves repeatedly during the drive home, drowning out the reality that we got plain out-fished because
we’re old it takes a dozen cups of $10/pound coffee to get us started in the morning.