Itching to get out there to cast a line, but want to avoid the 1-70 traffic? Well luckily there are plenty of great options right in the Denver area!
The South Platte River near Deckers offers some of the best fly fishing near Denver. This gold medal stretch of water begins just below the Wigwam club, which is private, and continues for approximately 8 miles to the Scraggy View Picnic Ground. The gold medal designation means that this part of the river contains at least 12 quality trout (14 inches or larger) per acre. Simply put the gold medal label indicates a very healthy population of trout. And the Deckers area of the South Platte makes up 8 miles of Colorado's 322 miles of gold medal streams. Most of this area is public property, and there are clearly marked pullouts for anglers to park and access the river. The sections that are private are well marked, so be sure to stay out of these areas.
The Deckers area provides excellent fishing for rainbow and brown trout. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife the number of fish per mile is around 3000. The majority of these fish will be between 12-16 inches, although fish over 20 inches are not uncommon. Oftentimes, you will be able to spot some of these fish from the several bridges that cross over the river. If you look hard enough you may even be able to spot them right in front of you while you are in the water. Even if you aren't catching them, it can be a lot of fun to watch these beautiful fish swim effortlessly in the current.
Just because the river has a gold medal designation, and holds a lot of fish, doesn't mean the fishing is easy. Some of my most frustrating days on the water have been on the South Platte. It is a very well know area with a healthy trout population that is easy to access from Denver. That is the recipe for a very high pressure area. This pressure means that the fish have seen just about everything; they are well educated and can be extremely picky about which flies they will take. Many of them have been caught before and have learned how to avoid a similar fate in the future. If you're looking for a day of solitude, this probably isn't the place for you. If you're looking for a place to test your skills, and to have a chance at a nice trout, Deckers is the perfect spot. Every fish here is earned-- there are no gimmes, which can be both frustrating and very rewarding. Either way, it's usually motivation to come back and try again.
The key to a successful day relies on figuring out what the fish are feeding on. As the seasons change, the types of bugs that are on the river change with them. The weather conditions can also play a role in what bugs are hatching and in turn what, the fish are eating. Generally, the most effective way to fish at Deckers is using nymphs, and very small ones at that. Size 18-24 of various patterns. The best thing to do is talk to a local fly shop about what the fishing has been like and what flies have been working. They won't be able to give you all the answers, but they can point you in the right direction. And if you're just learning, think about booking a guided trip, at least for a half day. Going out with a guide will significantly diminish the learning curve. They will give you general information about fly fishing, along with area specific information. They'll show you what you should be looking for as far as what the fish are eating and where the fish like to hold in the river.
Good luck and I hope to see you out on the river!
Directions From Denver
-Take US 285 S towards Fairplay
-Turn left onto County Highway 126 (Pine Junction)
-Drive approximately 21 miles, you’ll come to an intersection just past the Lone Rock Campground
-Turn right onto Y-Camp road (dirt) or left onto Highway 67. Both directions follow the river and have multiple pull offs for parking.
Written by: Kevin Main