Located to the south of Breckenridge in Park County, the Platte River is world famouse for it’s fly fishing potential. With easy year round access the Platte River is an easy destination for a nice winter day!
The “Cheeseman Canyon” section of the South Platte is certainly the most famous (and heavily fished, and notoriously challenging) portion of the South Platte River System. Unfortunately, it is also beyond the range of our Use Permits (and practical driving time). If you decide to fish here, a good “rule of thumb” is that if you’re using anything bigger than a size 18 pattern, you’re not even in the ball park! Also, due to the clarity of the water and the fact that these fish are worked over every day of the year, they’ll seldom accept anything heavier than 5-X tippets (more often 6- & 7-X) so if their first fast run into the heavy currents doesn’t break you off, they’ll usually head for the nearest big rock and let the coarse sandstone cut your leader for them!
The portion of the South Platte we fish (& guide) on is between 11-Mile and Montgomery Reservoirs. At the low end (goegraphically) is the infamous “Dream Stream” (below Spinney Mountain Reservoir) where everyone goes to try both their skill and patience. The Rainbows & Browns here are frequently so big that they are easily seen, allowing you to “sight cast” to them but (because of the intense pressure on this section?) the fish are seldom found feeding on the surface. They will, however, sometimes come up for ‘hoppers or “attractor” patterns. Adding a small bead-head trailer below a big attractor or fishing deep with tiny nymphs & midge larvae are generally the most productive techniques for these “college educated” fish.
From Spinney Mtn. Res. upstream to U.S. 285 near Fairplay the river is a large, meandering meadow stream with deep corner pools and undercut banks, gradually taking on more “mountain stream” characteristics (steaper gradient, more cobbled & freestone bottom) as you move upstream. From the inlet up to the “town” of Hartsel is about 6 miles by car; but there is so much water that it would take several days to fish all of it. This stretch includes the confluence of the South & Middle Forks. The South Fork is both a tail-water (below Antero Res.) and a “spring creek” — being fed by numerous ‘seeps’ and a large underground thermal spring near Hartsel. There are several access points near Hartsel where you’ll find easy, enjoyable fishing.
Above Antero, the South Fork also picks up speed and is essentially a smaller version of the Middle Fork. The fishing here and in the popular “Tomahawk” State Wildlife Area on the Middle Fork is primarily in the riffles and along the under-cut banks for Browns in the 8-13″ range. You can do well all summer long with ‘hoppers and attractors with bead-head trailers. You may also find a few pre-spawning Browns moving up from the reservoirs as early as the end of July which you’ll need to bring out the “heavy artillery” — Wooly Buggers (or mouse patterns late at night) to move with any regularity.
Between “Tomahawk” and Fairplay the Mountain Angler has secured exclusive fishing rights on approximately 6 miles of the most consistently productive and purely “fun to fish” water I’ve ever found. In the opinions of many of our clients, the “Holmestead” and “Middle Fork” Ranches offer some of the best trout fishing in North America. Resident Browns up to 14″ are plentiful, with many in the 16-17″ range and 20+ fish days (per person) are common. A few Rainbows, Snake River Cutthroats, “Cut-Bow” hybrids, and occassional Brookies can also be found. Be aware that due to the consistent quality of the fishing, mid-summer days on these two properties are frequently booked a full year in advance.