The Deckers section of the South Platte River is a fantastic tailwater fishery year-round. The 8 miles of deep pools, pocket water and riffles will challenge even the most accomplished anglers. Thanks to the Cheesman Reservoir with its bottom release, this tailwater is temperate all year around. Deckers is also just a few minutes from Denver, CO.
Report Date: Feb 5th, 2019
Low and clear has been the trend on the South Platte near Deckers for the past few months now. In case you’re still struggling to find fish in these colder months we have your back. You’re going to find most of the fish concentrated in the deeper pools with this low water and it’s going to be a struggle to get them to move at all so presentation is the name of the game now more than ever. Leading with a lighter colored bead or egg pattern can help you attract some of those hungry post spawn fish looking for a good meal in the middle of winter, same goes for a scud. These are big meals for a fish that is seeing pretty much nothing but midges size 20 and below so always a killer in the winter when food is scarce. For your dropper you’re going to want something more similar to what they are seeing on a consistant basis like small midges and baetis. Our guides have been finding fish on Wd-40s and Chocolate Thunder consistently and if all else fails an Rs2 should get the job done when nothing else will. Again with water temps being so low and fish being lethargic id put more stock in getting deep enough and having the exact right drift more so than the exact right fly.
Judging by this weather, winter seems to keep coming and then going on the south platte. With that said anglers will find success switching to winter tactics. The river is currently flowing at around 69cfs. With the colder temps and the low flows it will also pay to exercise a degree of stealth when approaching the banks. Look for fish sitting in deeper runs and deep under cut banks. 7.5ft leaders with 5x and 6x fluro tippet has been very effective. Small baeties and midges are mostly in play. If you get a nice late morning with the warm sun on the river, look for fish looking up to small midges. Chocolate thunders and Brown Element baetis have been a lot of a few fish.
Flows on the South Platte have been dancing around the mid 300’s for awhile now and while afternoon storms do have the potential to add a little bit of color to the water we have been having stellar mornings throwing some bigger flies. With the flows being up we are finding a lot of fish within 10 feet of the bank so don’t just go stomping into the water as soon as you get to the river. Your first few cast should be right off the bank before the boots even get wet. Id be surprised if you didn’t find an eager fish right off the bat. Another approach with high flows and off color water is a good streamer rig. We have been pretty successful early morning stripping a white streamer along the banks with a medium to heavy versi leader. If you’re hunting big fish then the streamer should be your ticket but get out there just before first light and cover some water.
Flows haven’t changed much since last week and are holding at 95cfs. The fish are spooky and still acting like its 50cfs. A stealthy approach is needed to be successful on the river. This week is going to be a scorcher in Denver so get on the river early or get on the water after 4pm to help give the fish a break. Fish are looking up to both small pmd’s as well as a big foam dry in the early mornings. Look for fish holding in the riffles and the deep pools to get a relief from the rising water temps mid day.
We finally have some water coming through the South Platte near Deckers and not a minute too soon. 100 Cfs doesn’t sound like much but its double what it was last week and the fishing has turned back on. You’re still going to want to get to the water early as it’s still getting hot quick but with the cloudy days we have been having as of late the fish have been active a little while longer. In the early hours of the morning you’ll find fish eating PMD emergers and caddis just below the surface. A subtle nymph rig or a hopper dropper with a heavy beaded dropper should do the trick. As the water starts to warm up in the early afternoon you’ll find most of the fish moving into the deeper runs looking for cooler water. A deep nymph rig lead with a a stonefly is the go to.
Flows are up a little bit but hey, 75 cfs is better than 45 cfs right? The water is still gin clear and fish seem to be more spooky now than they were before the bump in the flows. Hopper dropper rigs are still going to be your best bet and while a caddis emerger dropper will still find you some fish. We are starting to see a few PMDs moving around so its only a matter of time before a sparkle dun will be fooling the fish . It’s HOT down here on the Front Range so make sure you get out early and catch your fish before the water temperatures start to spike. From about 1 in the afternoon until 6 pm it’s best to give those fish a rest so as not to stress them out while the water temps are at their peak. Remember these fish need cold water, if the temps start hitting 60-65 degrees be very cautious. If you see water temps hit 65+ please call it a day, the fish need all the help they can get. On that note, please stop in the shop and grab a thermometer if you don’t have one. It is an imperative tool in a drought year like this one.
Well it appears Denver Water is going to keep the flows low. We’re seeing the gauge hold at 56 cfs and the water is gin clear. None the less, the fish are taking notice and they have become very spooky. Long leaders and small droppers are you ticket right now. Chubbys and hoppers are still in play but caddis in the 16 to 18 range and smaller baetis are what you want to focus on for your dropper. Be very cautious of your weight, less is more. The river is getting up there in temp by 12. Get to the river early and get off early, the fish will need all the breaks they can get come mid day.
Even with all the afternoon rain lately, flows are still low and gin clear down at Deckers and the river has been holding at 59 cfs. With that said the fishing has been nothing short of great for those willing to change their approach up. Be sure to take a stealthy approach along the banks and be mindful of your shadow. A good ol’ hopper dropper rig with a size 14 Graphic or Swing caddis is the best way to tempt these fish in the low water and don’t be surprised if you see a few big fish come up for the foam. The best way to fish this rig is to cover a lot of water and really let your flies swing towards the end of your drift. We have also been seeing a bunch of Golden Stones so a big pats rubber leg should do the trick in the deeper holes. It’s been getting very hot by mid day and in these low flows it’s better to get out early morning or late afternoon and leave the hotter hours of the day alone. As the summer begins to take hold, be mindful of river temps throughout the day during these low water days, try not to stress the fish. A simple thermometer comes in handy on days like these.
Water is low and clear but the fishing has been awesome. Caddis are starting to pop off everywhere and the BWO hatches are starting to slow down. Look for the deeper water as you’ll find a lot of fish holding deep all morning. By the afternoon you’ll find fish higher up in the water column looking for emerging caddis and the best way to get after these suspended fish is with a Mini Rig or a dry dropper with a Graphic caddis or a swing caddis dropped off an Elk hair or a smaller hopper.
The flows have continued to stay low for this time of year as Cheeseman reservoir fills up, however the fishing has been really good as of late. Fish are starting to take notice of some of the larger foam attractor patterns on the mini rig and the takes have been very entertaining. With the flows hanging in the 70-90cfs range the “mini rig” is a very effective tool, however a normal in line nymph rig will typically pick up plenty of fish as well. The subsurface flies that have been producing the best results are (barr’s emerger sz20, rainbow warriors sz22, zebra midge sz 20, butt crack baetis sz 20, buckskin caddis soft hackle sz 18). Most of the fish have been on the smaller baetis and midge patterns, but you should still stick a few with the attractor flies (san juan, egg, and stone fly patterns, etc.).
The top water action has been pretty good depending on the weather, if you’re out there with some cloud cover and minimal wind you’ll probably run into plenty of noses. The funnest approach for these fish is to target them with a tandem dryfly rig. The first fly is usually a (hairwing caddis, high-vis adams fly, stimulator in sizes 10-16) with about a 12’-inch trailer to a sz 20-22 (spent bwo, sparkle dun, parachute adams).
Please keep in mind that the rainbows are in full spawn and there are lots of redds in the river right now so please watch your step.
See you out there,
Deckers / South Platte Access Points