Author: Trouts Staff
Every year when flows coming out of Cheesman Reservoir hit the magic 500 - 700 cfs mark, I grab my rod and head for what has become an annual ritual of dry fly madness on my favorite stretch of water in the state. So when flows began to drop earlier this week across the South Platte River basin, I knew that it was time once again to head into the canyon.
Arriving at the Gill Trailhead around 8:30am, I was pleasantly surprised to see 4 other cars in the lot, a true anomaly for any section of the South Platte in the summer. After loading up with a good assortment of big, bushy hopper patterns, I made my way into the canyon for what I hoped would be a great day of fishing. On most days in Cheesman, I would walk right on past the bottom 1/4 of the Canyon, as this tends to be where the highest concentration of anglers typically is. Yet when fishing hoppers, I find it important to move as much as possible, so on this day I decided to play leap frog around the other anglers, and start my day a bit lower than usual.
As I was rigging my rod in Family Hole, there were two sounds that caught my attention. First was the rhythmic flow of a river, and second the distinct buzzing sound of hoppers. GAME ON! It didn't take long to hook into my first fish, and although it wasn't anything to right home about, the joy of seeing a fish eat a dry fly is something that I will never get tired of. As I slowly made my way upstream, I continued picking up fish in a variety of holding areas. Deep pools, pocket water along the banks, riffles and even back eddies were all holding fish willing and eager to eat whatever dry fly I had on my line.
Having been a fan of Rio's fly lines for many years, the Rio Gold and Rio Grand fly lines are fantastic. Upon inspection of "line profile" I decided this is what I needed, a long body and front taper, wrapped around a extremely supple core. I thought to myself that this thing should place a #16 Royal Stimulator into a 6" wide feeding lane with pinpoint accuracy, which it does...perfectly.
Hot damn, the Summer fishing season is upon us! Over the past week, we have seen flows across the state begin to begin to drop, signaling that runoff is finally over. Needless to say, this has been the most bizarre and long lasting runoff cycle I have ever witnessed, so I am very eager myself to finally enjoy some summer fishing.
While flows are still abnormally high for this time of year, freestone and tailwater rivers are all running clear and relatively warm (mid 40's to low 50's). As a result we have seen an abundance of insect life hatching, and the fish are taking notice by feeding very actively and aggressively throughout the day. Moving forward through the season there are a few key points that we all need to remember, as fishing conditions for the remainder of the summer will be unlike anything we have experienced in quite some time.