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Trip Report | Rio Grande River - South Fork, CO

October 21, 2009
Author: Trouts Staff

About a month or so back, I got a call from the Rio Grande Club wondering if I would be interested in coming down to their property in South Fork, CO for a weekend of fishing, dining, and all around good times.  Never having heard of this club, I got online and did a little recon to learn thrio-grande-in-fallat although primarily a golf club, they also have over 1 mile of private access on the Rio Grande.  Never one to shy away from a weekend of fishing, especially on private water, I obliged their invitation and started packing my bags.

It has been quite some time since I fished an entirely new river, so I was anxiously anticipating the trip and hoping that the river and weather conditions would play out in my favor.  Lucky for me a weather check the Thursday before departure forecast warm temperatures and sunny skies, ideal fishing conditions for late October.  A four hour drive Friday afternoon brought us to South Fork around dusk, so there was just enough time to unload the car and take a walk down to the water to check out the surroundings.  Having never seen the Rio Grande, my initial impression left me excited for the following day, as well as curious as to how I had managed to fish for this long and never made it down to this legendary stream.  It seemed to have a perfect gradient, not too fast or too small, and although the flows were low, there was still ample holding water for the fish.  Being predominantly a brown trout fishery, I knew that there wouldn’t be an abundant number of fish per mile, but those that were there would be healthy and potentially BIG.

We started fishing Saturday around 1o am, and just as forecast we were treated to clear blue skies and temperatures that felt a lot more like August then October.  The river wasmallest-trout-evers flowing at a little over 200 cfs, which was typical for this time of year and seemed to be ample in creating productive holding water for trout.  The property that the Rio Grande Club sits on stretches from just upstream of South Fork for a little more than a mile down stream.  The river is made up of a a number of great pools and runs, shallow calm water, as well as about 100 yards of the South Fork of the Rio Grande.  Because of the low water temps, and relative scarcity of available food, I figured that it was in our best interest to pass on the shallow, slow runs, and thoroughly work the deeper pools where fish could feed a bit easier.

After about an hour of fishing I had my first fish to hand; a nice brown of about 4″ that was easily the smallest fish I have caught in a long time.  After another 15-20 minutes of working the run I got another good strike, and soon landed a beautiful brown, this one measuring a modest 10″.  Never one to give up, and knowing full well the difficulties and challenges that come with fishing new water, I fished on determined to figure this river out.  It ultimately turned out to be a long and frusterating afternoon.  I worked the entire property from top to bottom, and was only rewarded with a few more strikes.

Sunday brought similar weather to the South Fork area, although mother nature decided to throw in a new twist for the day, WIND and lots of it.  Not wanting to take the beating I had the day before, I got a hold of  South Fork Outfitters that morning to get the low down on fishing the Rio Grande.  To my surprise, I was told that the fish were keying in on larger bugs, mainly stoneflies from size 10-16, and that smaller midges and mayflies would be ineffective.  Although this seemed contrary to many of the rivers I normallyrio-brown fished, I took the guides advice and left the midge box at home and pulled out my summer box full of princes, pheasant tails, hares ears, and stones.  I’ll admit that I was willing and excited to try the locals advice, as nothing brings me more pleasure then seeing fish go after big bugs.

Having only a 1/2 day to fish, I went straight to the hole where I had landed the two trout the day prior, figuring that if nothing else I knew that the hole held fish.  My second cast was greeted with a solid strike, and a great fight that produced a nice 12″ brown.  Things all of the sudden were looking up.  I continued to work the run, and it didn’t take long until I had another fish on.  As the morning rolled along, my streak continued with a good number of fish to hand, many of which were a solid 14″-18″.  Needless to say, by the time I was reeling up my line at the end of the day I was a true believer in the Rio Grande, and was already planning my next visit.

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