It’s only a two hour drive for me to reach the Dream Stream from Denver, so it’s often me go-to stretch of fly fishing water. This Gold Medal section of the South Platte River never fails to provide me with a relaxing yet exciting morning chasing trophy rainbow and browns. But I have not yet had a chance to try my luck fighting a kokanee salmon on the Dream Stream.
To make it happen, I booked a half day walk and wade excursion with one of the professional guides from Minturn Anglers in Denver. I’ve worked with them before so I know the guide will bring me to the right spot and, importantly, will also take the time to coach me on my technique to make sure I pull in my Colorado Dream Stream koke.
The fall salmon spawning run offers the best time to catch kokanee salmon in the Dream Stream. When water temperatures start dropping below 55 degrees F, three and four year old kokanee in the reservoir start to change as they prepare to spawn. They turn from a silvery color to bright red, and the males develop large hooked jaws in preparation for battle for the best spawning grounds. Their instinct is to head upriver, fighting for prime spawning ground as they do so.
My guide advised that no special equipment is needed; a 9 foot 5wt fly rod will do just fine. Polarized sunglasses are a must to help locate pods of salmon in the water. Red colored flies and egg patterns seem to work best, and at least a 1/8 ounce weight about 10 inches above the fly will help get the fly into the strike zone faster.
I truly appreciated my guide’s expert directions for searching out the koke in the Dream Stream. He suggested focusing on deeper pools which are lined with gravel. Typically these are located at points where the river bends, or below small drops. These sought after fish also prefer resting in deep weed beds before continuing upstream.
A successful approach is to cast a few feet upstream from the fish, setting the hook with a straight lift of the rod at even the slightest of pauses. A change in motion like an upward swing at the end of a drift can also provoke a strike. Bringing in a hard fighting kokanee is exhilarating, and I thank my Minturn Angler guide for introducing me to this catch of a lifetime!