Surprise catch on the urban South Platte River brings new meaning to “brownlining”

Yesterday I took a run down to the South Platte River, just south of the Denver city limits. My good friend Jon Emert in tow, we were ostensibly seeking carp.

The South Platte River is considered a dirty place – people don’t expect to see fishermen there, particularly not fly-fishermen. Par for the course, we were repeatedly (and quite rudely) mocked by passing cyclists. Not just any cyclists, but seemingly die-hard professional racing types, at least according to appearance (denoted by their carbon fiber bikes, sponsor-laden jerseys, and Christmas dinner flab hanging over their ballet tights). If those loft-dwelling, latte-sipping, bluetooth-toting, faux-environmentalists only knew. Actually, some of us would rather they didn’t.

We spotted just two carp all afternoon. Yearlings, maybe ten inches each, scooting across the skinny water. Could the Water Quality Control Commission, who gracefully denied a petition to keep the cold water designation on this section of river, be right?

Unfortunately, there are now at least two [more] anglers that know for certain they’re absolutely wrong. The brown trout pictured here was caught January 10, 2010, on the urban section of the South Platte River, by Mr. Emert. Brown trout are unquestionably a cold water species. This particular brown trout was colorful, muscular, and completely un-scarred. Its fins were wholly intact, unlike the fish you occasionally see who have to fight hard for their meals. It seems clear to us that it had found a way to adapt to its surroundings (foul-mouthed cyclists notwithstanding), and with vigor.

The fish spent a minute or so in and out of the water, while we carefully removed the Rainey’s Carp Teaser it had engulfed deep and snapped a few photos. Not a drop of blood was shed, and upon release it shot back into the pool from whence it came like nothing had ever happened.

Maybe the DOW snuck in while we weren’t looking and stocked the river with a supply of five year old brown trout. But…I doubt it.

Cesspool worthy of nothing but warm-water scavengers? Blech.


Matt Dunn says:

That’s pretty crazy dude. Way to keep the cropping tight.

And I ran into the Mystic guys at the Indy fly show; they said they hoped I stopped getting into fights.

What are the odds that’s a year-round resident? Brown trout do travel, and rumor has it the winters in Denver can be cool.

Just wondering.

That said, I’m wondering why the hell you even posted about this. I’m willing to post pictures of *other* people’s big trout, but not so much when I get one…

@Matt – I owe all my photoshopping skills to big man Alex (who…secretly…has never actually caught a fish in his life).

@TC – What are the odds? Pretty low. But there are only a few places this fish could have come from, and most don’t have a reputation for fish of this size. There is also a reservoir above he could have escaped from, but again, size matters.

I’ll also contend that the flows have been pretty low (either trickle or downright frozen over) for a while on the suspect entryways, so I’d venture to guess this particular fish could have been in the area for as much as several months (if it wasn’t in fact a resident). And from its appearance it was clearly very healthy – strong, colorful and fat-bellied despite the lack of insect activity.

I suspect he’s been on a high protein diet – the DOW did stock cutbow (I think cutbow) fingerlings not long ago, and there are also crawfish in the water and plenty of small mammals around it.

This was an exciting find, even if it was *somebody else’s* catch!

Tom says:

You’d be shocked as to what species are year round residents in that river. I bet that fish lives there year round. Trout like this pop up periodically all up and down the river in town. TK pulled a solid 22 incher(brown) outta 285 last year. Rumor has it BR is pulling some rather obscure species out of a certain stretch of the river. Hush, hush. At any rate, sorry you couldn’t get it done with the carp… 🙂 JM, TK, SS, and BR all had bang up days in the last week or so. Hmmmm….must be the guide.

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